\ ˈswer How to pronounce swear (audio) \
swore\ ˈswȯr How to pronounce swore (audio) \; sworn\ ˈswȯrn How to pronounce sworn (audio) \; swearing

Definition of swear

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to utter or take solemnly (an oath)
2a : to assert as true or promise under oath a sworn affidavit swore to uphold the Constitution
b : to assert or promise emphatically or earnestly swore he'd study harder next time
3a : to put to an oath : administer an oath to
b : to bind by an oath swore them to secrecy
4 obsolete : to invoke the name of (a sacred being) in an oath
5 : to bring into a specified state by swearing swore his life away

intransitive verb

1 : to take an oath
2 : to use profane or obscene language : curse
swear by
: to place great confidence in swears by his mechanic
swear for
: to give assurance for : guarantee
swear off
: to vow to abstain from : renounce swear off smoking



Definition of swear (Entry 2 of 2)

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Other Words from swear


swearer noun

Examples of swear in a Sentence

Verb He swore revenge on the killers. I swear to God, I'll kill him if he comes back. Don't swear in front of the children. I do solemnly swear to tell the whole truth. Noun I heard him say a swear. can't you express your frustration without using swears?
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Who could be more attractive than someone who has sworn off doing it? Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker, "“Ramy” ’s Comedy of Spiritual Errors," 18 May 2020 Isbell is a recovering alcoholic but hadn’t sworn off Listerine, despite its nearly 27 percent alcohol content. David Peisner, New York Times, "Jason Isbell, Self-Doubt and the Album That Tested His Marriage," 11 May 2020 With so many people opting to swear off air travel in an effort to be more eco-conscious, the train could be an excellent solution for people who still wish to travel longer distances. Travel + Leisure, "This Incredible New Train Could Take You From Paris to Amsterdam in 90 Minutes," 29 Apr. 2020 Depositions, sworn pretrial testimony by witnesses outside the courtroom. Bob Egelko, SFChronicle.com, "Trial by video conference? Not yet, but coronavirus forces Bay Area courts to embrace more virtual proceedings," 3 Apr. 2020 The police department said Wednesday that 100 sworn members and 29 civilians have tested positive for the coronavirus illness COVID-19. NBC News, "Idaho reports first 3 deaths linked to COVID-19," 28 Mar. 2020 Garza’s attorney, Richard Suzuki, told The Associated Press last week that Garza was remorseful and has sworn off the Atomwaffen Division. Chelsea Curtis, azcentral, "Court records reveal details of Queen Creek man accused of threatening Phoenix journalist," 10 Mar. 2020 For years, the guides of Mexico’s top trophy lakes have sworn by the Wildeye, which comes in clamshell packaging in small groups for a buck or two apiece. Pete Robbins, Field & Stream, "The 5 Best Swimbaits for Catching Big Spring Largemouth Bass," 2 Mar. 2020 Many have sworn off taking money from lobbyists and corporate PACs, as have many Democratic members of Congress. Bill Allison, Fortune, "The 2020 presidential race might be remembered as when the dam broke on money in U.S. politics," 14 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The latter section is where one is most likely to encounter the swears, particularly in the poetry of William Dunbar and Walter Kennedy. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "500-year-old manuscript contains one of earliest known uses of the “F-word”," 6 Apr. 2020 Some people use elbows, some swear by using a knuckle to tap the button. The Oregonian/oregonlive.com, oregonlive, "‘Dracula sneeze,’ fist bump, knuckle tap: 3 easy ways to reduce coronavirus risk as you head back to work, school," 2 Mar. 2020 Baseball prospect season is upon us once again, with publications releasing their annual prospect rankings that everybody in baseball swears are paid no attention to. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "Casey Mize, Matt Manning top Detroit Tigers' prospect lists as rankings roll out," 9 Jan. 2020 Case in point: Kourt just revealed that swears by the Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Mask ($10, amazon.com) in her self-care skincare routine. Braelyn Wood, Health.com, "Kourtney Kardashian Swears by the $10 Aztec Clay Mask in Her Skincare Routine," 25 Sep. 2019 The reporter is dead, but her writing partner at the time and others in the media and at her paper swear that story line is a lie. Scott Ostler, SFChronicle.com, "Madison Bumgarner in blue? Bruce Bochy in France? Sunday Punch answers," 14 Dec. 2019 Zaidi worked with him in the Dodgers’ front office, where Ibanez has been a special assistant since 2016, and those who have known him as a player and executive swear by his leadership skills. John Shea, SFChronicle.com, "Who will Giants hire as manager? Breaking down 10 intriguing options," 5 Oct. 2019 An uncomfortable minute passes as the quadruple amputee swears and screams at the deputy, who uses one forearm to hold him pressed to the ground. BostonGlobe.com, "Video showing teen with no arms or legs being tackled and pinned by deputy prompts Arizona investigation - The Boston Globe," 16 Nov. 2019 O’Rourke hasn’t been filling up the swear jar all by himself on the campaign trail. Joe Garofoli, SFChronicle.com, "Cussing candidates drop F-bombs with aplomb," 31 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'swear.' 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 swear


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


14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for swear


Middle English sweren, from Old English swerian; akin to Old High German swerien to swear and perhaps to Old Church Slavonic svarŭ quarrel

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Time Traveler for swear

Time Traveler

The first known use of swear was before the 12th century

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Statistics for swear

Last Updated

24 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Swear.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/swear. Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for swear


How to pronounce swear (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of swear

: to state (something) very strongly and sincerely
: to promise very strongly and sincerely to do or not do something
: to use offensive words when you speak


\ ˈswer How to pronounce swear (audio) \
swore\ ˈswȯr \; sworn\ ˈswȯrn \; swearing

Kids Definition of swear

1 : to use bad or vulgar language : curse
2 : to make a statement or promise with sincerity or under oath : vow I swear to tell the truth.
3 : to give an oath to The witness was sworn.
4 : to bind by an oath He swore them to secrecy.
5 : to be or feel certain I swear I saw it a minute ago.


swore; sworn; swearing

Legal Definition of swear

transitive verb

1 : to utter or take solemnly swear an oath
2a : to assert as true or promise under oath a sworn affidavit
b : to assert or promise emphatically or earnestly swore to uphold the constitution
3a : to put to an oath
b : to bind by an oath

intransitive verb

: to take an oath

History and Etymology for swear

Old English swerian

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More from Merriam-Webster on swear

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for swear

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with swear

Spanish Central: Translation of swear

Nglish: Translation of swear for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of swear for Arabic Speakers

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