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

Even something as innocent as a cotton swab can be a clue. Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, "7 things to look for in a teen's bedroom that can tell you he or she is doing drugs," 22 July 2019 Whispering Angel is to rosé what Kleenex is to facial tissues or Q-tips are to cotton swabs. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Inside the calculated race to create the next drink of summer," 17 July 2019 At this meeting, Lee refused to thoroughly explain what the reason for the cheek swab test was, Anni Manukyan said. Giulia Mcdonnell Nieto Del Rio, latimes.com, "Couple says their embryo was implanted into wrong woman. They had to fight to get their son," 11 July 2019 To do this, the instructions suggest pulling away most of the cotton on a swab, leaving just a wisp to act as a thin paintbrush. Jeanne Huber, Washington Post, "Cracked kitchen tiles? Try a patch.," 10 June 2019 When collecting a suspect’s DNA, law enforcement officers typically obtain a warrant from a judge before taking a blood sample or cheek swab. Evan Sernoffsky, SFChronicle.com, "SF prosecutors fight bid to free ‘Rideshare Rapist’ suspect over shoddy police work," 12 July 2019 What started as a simple cheek swab with a Q-Tip became a long-distance trip this past March to meet family in Israel who survived the Holocaust. Debbie Spingarn, BostonGlobe.com, "A familial journey to Israel, launched with a simple cheek swab," 13 June 2019 Before the plea deal was finalized, authorities used modern methods to retest evidence stored at a Richmond police locker, including various swabs from Vasquez’s autopsy, as well as her fingernail clippings and dentures. Nate Gartrell, The Mercury News, "Contra Costa DA’s number two resigns, says handling of murder cases ‘made me sick inside’," 2 July 2019 The scammers get a cheek swab with your DNA, and a photo of your driver’s license and Medicare card. cleveland.com, "Senior scams on the rise as new cons emerge: Here’s how to protect yourself," 30 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Shepard’s last scene has Garrison on his knees, swabbing the pooled blood of his men in a field hospital. Graeme Wood, The Atlantic, "Sam Shepard Saw It All Coming," 11 July 2019 Karun’s inner cheek was swabbed and the detectives turned the swabs over to the state forensic lab. David Owens, courant.com, "Suspect in 1986 rape and killing of 11-year-old Kathleen Flynn in Norwalk waives extradition in Maine, is headed back to Connecticut," 14 June 2019 One common mode of diagnosis here includes swabbing the eye or gathering samples of eye discharge, then running tests for the presence of different pathogens, according to the Merck Manual. Kasandra Brabaw, SELF, "So, You Got Semen in Your Eye. Here's What to Do," 1 Mar. 2019 To see if the patient was carrying C. auris, the treating doctors in Maryland swabbed the patient's groin and armpits. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Got a horrifying foreign superbug? You may have more than one," 1 Aug. 2019 If your plants are inside, take a Q-tip and swab the pollen inside the male flower, then rub it around the female flower. Ap Mcclatchy, The Mercury News, "How to grow your own fruits and vegetables — from food scraps," 10 July 2019 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 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 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

Statistics for swab

Last Updated

6 Sep 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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