swab

noun
\ ˈswäb How to pronounce swab (audio) \

Definition of swab

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : 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
2a : a useless or contemptible person
b : sailor, gob

swab

verb
swabbed; swabbing

Definition of swab (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Safe, at-home earwax removal should not include cotton swabs or wax candles. Korin Miller, SELF, "What to Do If You Have an Earwax Blockage," 29 Jan. 2019 The government has also proposed going further, with a ban on the sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton swabs with plastic stems. Amie Tsang, New York Times, "McDonald’s to Switch to Paper Straws in Britain as Country Turns Against Plastic," 15 June 2018 The United Kingdom announced plans in April to ban the sale of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton swabs as the global war against plastic pollution gains momentum. David Carrig, USA TODAY, "Plastic straws are polluting our oceans. Here are some alternatives," 23 May 2018 Add a drop directly on the spot, or soak the tip of a cotton swab then dab it right on top. Nicole Catanese, Seventeen, "15 Surprising Ways to Heal a Pimple," 4 Mar. 2016 The technology depends on people coming forward to give a DNA sample via a cheek swab. Kathleen Ronayne, The Seattle Times, "Light rain falling in N California could hurt search effort," 21 Nov. 2018 Stick to nonoily makeup removers as well: Shin recommends using micellar water with a cotton swab to remove makeup around your eyes (with cotton pads, fibers will stick to your lashes), whereas Shirai prefers presoaked oil-free makeup-removing pads. Katheryn Erickson, Glamour, "Your Everything Guide to Eyelash Extensions," 28 Mar. 2019 For commercial users—which is the primary focus of the Reverb—HP will sell the Reverb Professional Edition, whose leather-style face cushion can be wiped clean with an alcohol swab. Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld, "HP's high-res Reverb VR headset blows the screen door effect off its hinges," 19 Mar. 2019 No matter how much pink gunk came away on my cotton swab, there was always more lurking in some inaccessible crevice. Stephanie Shore Fisher, Country Living, "The Honeywell HCM350W Humidifier Is Single-Handedly Helping Me Survive the Winter," 12 Feb. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Dan remembers the brash, colorful mural the architect swabbed across two walls of the Nivola family living room. Sarah Medford, WSJ, "Daniel and Estrellita Brodsky Dreamed of a Modern Home in a Pastoral Setting," 11 Dec. 2018 Late last year, Justina Crawford decided to swab the inside of her mouth for a saliva sample to do a DNA test. Amy Dockser Marcus, WSJ, "For Some African-Americans, Genetic Testing Reopens Past Wounds," 14 July 2018 And in July, under a 2013 state law that allows DNA sampling of inmates, Nevada authorities swabbed the inside of Ewing's cheek and entered the results in the national database. Katherine Lam, Fox News, "Nevada inmate linked to 1984 hammer killing cold cases in Colorado," 12 Aug. 2018 Beards sometimes as dirty as toilets A handful of brave men allowed Action 7 News to swab their beards, and the results showed some beards are as dirty as toilets. Marlisse Cepeda, Woman's Day, "Lab Tests Discover That Beards Are Dirtier Than Toilets," 4 May 2015 In trying to meet the first deadline, the government began with a list of 102 children potentially eligible to be reunited and whittled that to 75 through screening that included DNA testing done by swabbing the inside of the cheek. Washington Post, "Reunited immigrant children scooped up into parents’ arms," 10 July 2018 In the private screening room with a female TSA officer and a supervisory officer, one of the women swabbed Pellegrino’s shirt for explosives residue and left to test it. Bart Jansen, USA TODAY, "Court: TSA officers immune from most checkpoint lawsuits," 11 July 2018 In trying to meet the first deadline, the government began with a list of 102 children potentially eligible to be reunited and whittled that to 75 through screening that included DNA testing done by swabbing the inside of the cheek. Washington Post, "Reunited immigrant children scooped up into parents’ arms," 10 July 2018 Prosecutors could have charged Huffman five years ago, if police had properly swabbed him for DNA during his 2012 arrest in an assault, or in 2015 when he was arrested with a gun. Rachel Dissell, cleveland.com, "'Fallen through the cracks:' Overdue DNA swabs link to murders, sexual assaults," 13 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'swab.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of swab

Noun

1653, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1719, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for swab

Noun

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

Verb

back-formation from swabber

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Learn More about swab

Dictionary Entries near swab

svy

SW

sw

swab

swabber

swabbie

Swabia

Statistics for swab

Last Updated

17 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for swab

The first known use of swab was in 1653

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More Definitions for swab

swab

noun

English Language Learners Definition of swab

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a small piece of soft material sometimes on the end of a small stick that is used for applying medicine, cleaning a wound, etc.
: a small amount of material taken with a swab as a sample from a person's body

swab

verb

English Language Learners Definition of swab (Entry 2 of 2)

: to wipe or clean (something, such as a wound) with a swab

swab

noun
\ ˈswäb How to pronounce swab (audio) \

Kids Definition of swab

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a yarn mop especially as used on a ship
2 : a wad of absorbent material usually wound around the end of a small stick and used for applying or removing material (as medicine or makeup)

swab

verb
swabbed; swabbing

Kids Definition of swab (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to clean with or as if with a mop A boy swabbed the ship's deck.
2 : to apply medication to with a wad of absorbent material A nurse swabbed the wound with iodine.

swab

noun
\ ˈswäb How to pronounce swab (audio) \

Medical Definition of swab

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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
swabbed; swabbing

Medical Definition of swab (Entry 2 of 2)

: to apply medication to with a swab swabbed the wound with iodine

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More from Merriam-Webster on swab

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with swab

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for swab

Spanish Central: Translation of swab

Nglish: Translation of swab for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of swab for Arabic Speakers

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