swab

1 of 2

noun

1
a
: mop
especially : a yarn mop
b(1)
: a wad of absorbent material usually wound around one end of a small stick and used especially for applying medication or for removing material from an area
(2)
: a specimen taken with a swab
c
: a sponge or cloth patch attached to a long handle and used to clean the bore of a firearm
2
a
: a useless or contemptible person
b
: sailor, gob

swab

2 of 2

verb

swabbed; swabbing

transitive verb

1
: to clean with or as if with a swab
2
: to apply medication to with a swab
swabbed the wound with iodine

Examples of swab in a Sentence

Noun Use a cotton swab dipped in alcohol to disinfect the area. The doctor took a throat swab and sent it to the lab. Verb The nurse swabbed the cut with a disinfectant.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Share [Findings] Skin swabs are three times as accurate as fecal samples at predicting a person’s age. Rafil Kroll-Zaidi, Harper's Magazine, 27 Mar. 2024 Milk and nasal swab samples from sick cattle on at least two dairy farms in Texas and two in Kansas have tested positive for bird flu, according to federal and state officials. Andrew Jeong, Washington Post, 26 Mar. 2024 Testing for pertussis is available through a physician’s office — either by an evaluation or through a nasal swab test. Keri Brenner, The Mercury News, 26 Mar. 2024 The exact type of test depends on the potential infection: For most viral infections, including HIV, a blood test is necessary, but for most bacterial infections or viral infections that can cause lesions—for instance, herpes—either a urine test or a swab of the affected area can be used. Mara Santilli, SELF, 26 Mar. 2024 As of Monday, the highly contagious pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAI) had been found in unpasteurized clinical samples of milk from ill cows at two dairy farms in Kansas and one in Texas, plus a swab from a dairy cow in Texas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in a news release. USA TODAY, 26 Mar. 2024 In June, the lab returned results saying the swab from the crust matched a hair found where the women's bodies were discovered. Christopher Cann, USA TODAY, 16 Jan. 2024 However, a driver is not legally obligated to submit to field sobriety tests, pre-arrest breath tests, or cheek swabs at a DUI checkpoint, according to Shouse California Law Group. Angela Rodriguez, Sacramento Bee, 9 Feb. 2024 Tools commonly left behind included surgical swabs, clamps, drill bits, scalpels, and, in one case, even part of a pair of wire cutters. Matt Benoit, Discover Magazine, 19 Jan. 2024
Verb
In one study, published in 2013, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh swabbed the noses and mouths of people sick with the flu. Quanta Magazine, 11 Apr. 2024 These tests can include chest X-rays, swabbing the inside of the mouth or nose, pulse oximetry to detect levels of oxygen and blood tests. Angela Rodriguez, Sacramento Bee, 7 Apr. 2024 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention program asks arriving international passengers to volunteer to have their noses swabbed and answer questions about their travel. Mike Stobbe, Quartz, 12 Mar. 2024 Most primary healthcare providers, dermatologists, and even some urgent care centers know how to swab for mpox, Zheng said. Claire Wolters, Verywell Health, 12 Mar. 2024 Online, some people are suggesting that swabbing your stool can lead to more accurate COVID test results. Julia Landwehr, Health, 6 Feb. 2024 Worried users even used home lead tests to swab their Stanleys for the metal, some sharing positive results online. Ali Francis, Bon Appétit, 1 Feb. 2024 These sorts of tests are Antigen tests that involve swabbing the inside of the nostril and then placing the swab in a liquid solution which is used on a test strip. The Arizona Republic, 10 Feb. 2024 The tests involve swabbing the armpits and the groin, which are oily parts of skin that the fungus likes to colonize. Aria Bendix, NBC News, 2 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'swab.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

probably from obsolete Dutch swabbe; akin to Low German swabber mop

Verb

back-formation from swabber

First Known Use

Noun

1653, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1719, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of swab was in 1653

Dictionary Entries Near swab

Cite this Entry

“Swab.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/swab. Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

swab

1 of 2 noun
1
b
: a wad of absorbent material usually wound around one end of a small stick and used especially for applying medicine or for removing material (as from a wound)
also : a sample taken with a swab
2
: sailor

swab

2 of 2 verb
swabbed; swabbing
: to use a swab on

Medical Definition

swab

1 of 2 noun
1
: a wad of absorbent material usually wound around one end of a small stick and used for applying medication or for removing material from an area
2
: a specimen taken with a swab
a throat swab

swab

2 of 2 transitive verb
swabbed; swabbing
: to apply medication to with a swab
swabbed the wound with iodine

More from Merriam-Webster on swab

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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