swab

noun
\ ˈswäb \

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

Several swabs were taken from inside Claire during the autopsy. CBS News, "Were the murders of California teens the work of a serial killer?," 9 June 2018 Silva’s case, which could go to trial later this year, was called into court Thursday for the state’s motion to obtain the DNA swab. David Owens, courant.com, "Judge Orders Double Murder Suspect To Provide DNA Sample To Prosecution," 25 May 2018 From the saliva swabs, about four to 14 percent of the infected were actively shedding the virus during the stressful fall mating season of 2015. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Florida man’s latest worry: Killer herpes from wild monkeys," 11 Jan. 2018 Should every new arrival be checked, with skin and gut swabs and lab tests, as part of hospital admission? Screening won’t be a perfect defense, because clinical microbiology is struggling with this bug. Maryn Mckenna, WIRED, "The Strange and Curious Case of the Deadly Superbug Yeast," 13 July 2018 The sword and swabs taken from the Honda’s steering wheel were sent to the State Patrol Crime Lab for forensic testing, the charges say. Sara Jean Green, The Seattle Times, "DNA found on samurai sword leads to murder charge, warrant against former Island County man," 3 July 2018 The restoration team tested a number of different cleaning agents, eventually applying the winning solution, called Simple Green, with cotton swabs. Keith Williams, New York Times, "What Is That Spot on the Ceiling of Grand Central Terminal?," 7 June 2018 Michigan authorities sent a follow-up DNA swab to the Louisiana State Police crime lab in May of 2016 for confirmation, and Glass said he was indicted in 2017. Heather Nolan, NOLA.com, "With $1 million grant and DNA, DA's office hopes to bring closure to long-unsolved rapes," 18 May 2018 Samples are cultured from the swabs taken from the patients' penises. Sophie Cousins, CNN, "Wherever you are in the world, time is running out for treating gonorrhea," 15 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 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. Elliot Spagat And Mike Householder, chicagotribune.com, "Government falls short of deadline to reunite kids, parents separated at the border," 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. Time, "Government Falls Short of Deadline to Reunite Separated Migrant Kids and Their Parents," 11 July 2018 Azar said parents and children are being swabbed for DNA to match paternity and checks are being done as rapidly as possible to make the court deadline. CBS News, "With thousands of children still separated, deadline to reunite immigrants quickly approaching," 6 July 2018 Investigators swabbed the handle of D’Angelo’s driver-side door and sent it for testing. Tj Ortenzi, Washington Post, "Hunt for Golden State Killer led detectives to Hobby Lobby for DNA sample," 2 June 2018 Benson convinces her to go to the hospital and submit to a rape kit where she is probed and prodded, her fingernails scraped and cheeks swabbed. Andrea Simakis, cleveland.com, "'I Am Evidence' shines light on U.S. rape kit backlog, Cleveland's fight to help end it: Cleveland International Film Fest," 6 Apr. 2018 Like the pap, the HPV test involves swabbing cervical cells, so this isn’t a question of replacing one procedure with another, less invasive one. Cari Romm, The Cut, "A New Study May Have Found a More Effective Alternative to Pap Smears," 3 July 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

Phrases Related to swab

cotton swab

Statistics for swab

Last Updated

6 Sep 2018

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 \

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 \

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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Comments on swab

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