swallow

1 of 3

noun (1)

swal·​low ˈswä-(ˌ)lō How to pronounce swallow (audio)
1
: any of numerous small widely distributed oscine birds (family Hirundinidae, the swallow family) that have a short bill, long pointed wings, and often a deeply forked tail and that feed on insects caught on the wing
2
: any of several birds that superficially resemble swallows

Illustration of swallow

Illustration of swallow
  • swallow 1

swallow

2 of 3

verb

swallowed; swallowing; swallows

transitive verb

1
: to take through the mouth and esophagus into the stomach
2
: to envelop or take in as if by swallowing : absorb
swallow the financial loss
watch night swallow the valley
3
: to accept without question, protest, or resentment
swallow an insult
a hard story to swallow
4
: take back, retract
had to swallow my words
5
: to keep from expressing or showing : repress
swallowed my anger
6
: to utter (words) indistinctly

intransitive verb

1
: to receive something into the body through the mouth and esophagus
2
: to perform the action characteristic of swallowing something especially under emotional stress
swallowable adjective
swallower noun

swallow

3 of 3

noun (2)

1
: the passage connecting the mouth to the stomach
2
: a capacity for swallowing
3
a
: an act of swallowing
b
: an amount that can be swallowed at one time

Example Sentences

Verb He swallowed the grape whole. Chew your food well before you swallow. The boss said, “Come in.” I swallowed hard and walked in. Her story is pretty hard to swallow. I can usually take criticism, but this is more than I can swallow.

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

Middle English swalowe, from Old English swealwe; akin to Old High German swalawa swallow

Verb

Middle English swalowen, from Old English swelgan; akin to Old High German swelgan to swallow

First Known Use

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of swallow was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near swallow

Cite this Entry

“Swallow.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/swallow. Accessed 7 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

swallow

1 of 3 noun
swal·​low ˈswäl-ō How to pronounce swallow (audio)
1
: any of a family of small birds that have long pointed wings and usually a deeply forked tail and that feed on insects caught while in flight
2
: any of several birds that look like true swallows

swallow

2 of 3 verb
1
a
: to take into the stomach through the mouth and throat
b
: to perform the actions used in swallowing something
clear your throat and swallow before answering
2
: to take in as if by swallowing : engulf
3
: to accept or believe without question, protest, or anger
a hard story to swallow
4
: to keep from expressing or showing : repress
swallowed my anger
swallower noun

swallow

3 of 3 noun
1
: an act of swallowing
2
: an amount that can be swallowed at one time

Medical Definition

swallow

1 of 2 transitive verb
swal·​low ˈswäl-(ˌ)ō How to pronounce swallow (audio)
: to take through the mouth and esophagus into the stomach

intransitive verb

: to receive something into the body through the mouth and esophagus

swallow

2 of 2 noun
1
: an act of swallowing
2
: an amount that can be swallowed at one time

More from Merriam-Webster on swallow

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