\ 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 That's why on Sunday Sanchez asked the 15 Philadelphians to raise their right hand, and led them in an oath, swearing allegiance to the United States. Clare Hymes, CBS News, "15 new Americans sworn in as citizens before the first pitch at Phillies-Red Sox game," 17 Sep. 2019 An 89-yard touchdown pass from Baker Mayfield to Odell Beckham made Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams swear on the sideline. Doug Lesmerises, cleveland.com, "Cleveland Browns raise the bar, get their first ‘yeah-but’ win in five years," 16 Sep. 2019 Khosoo, the donkey-cart driver, soaks his clothes in water several times a day, while tractor driver Nabi Bux swears that the Sindhi pop tunes blaring from his open cab take his mind off the heat. Aryn Baker, Time, "What It’s Like Living in One of the Hottest Cities on Earth—Where It May Soon Be Uninhabitable," 12 Sep. 2019 In Baltimore County, 80% of sworn police officers are white, while whites are just 57% of the county’s overall population, according to census data. Pamela Wood, baltimoresun.com, "Across the board, Baltimore area police departments are much whiter than the people they serve," 11 Sep. 2019 The loss of Liberty was a sign of the times, perhaps, but city die-hards swore Birmingham was cursed after her departure. John Archibald | Jarchibald@al.com, al, "Are you a true Birmingham local? Answer these 15 questions," 9 Sep. 2019 No, swore another, she’s chosen a hospital in Surrey where Harry’s aunt gave birth. K.j. Yossman, Marie Claire, "Inside the Cutthroat World of Royal Gossips," 5 Sep. 2019 Around half of China’s 12m Catholics belong to a body supervised by the government, while the other half swear allegiance only to Rome. The Economist, "Politics this week," 29 Aug. 2019 But obviously if something bad happens to the wine market, like everyone swears off wine, the market starts to sink. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "What’s up with the yield curve?," 16 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But sometimes the swear itself is newsworthy, a predicament that cropped up last year after Trump used a vulgar term to describe African nations and Haiti during a White House meeting with lawmakers. BostonGlobe.com, "ABC tells Democrats to keep their language clean tonight (ahem. . . Beto) - The Boston Globe," 13 Sep. 2019 Even Sir Patrick Stewart, as Charles Xavier, drops a few swears. al, "X-Men’s Wolverine goes cuddly for Build-A-Bear version," 11 Sep. 2019 Well, the aforementioned scene does actually link to Sacchi...swear. SI.com, "Arrigo Sacchi: The Game That Made the AC Milan Legend One of the Greatest Managers of All Time," 15 Aug. 2019 The big fireworks show in DC comes Thursday night, replete with Abrams tanks, flyovers by stealth jets - a B-2 bomber, F-22 Raptor and F-35 fighter --and a presidential speech that the White House pinky-swears won't be overtly partisan. Dallas News, "Castro rises in poll, outrage over Texas immigration detention centers grows, new Dallas voting plan," 4 July 2019 Didn't everyone on the Top 100 list swear at some point in their lives?—and Chrissy shut them down immediately. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Chrissy Teigen Is Named a TIME Most Influential Person—and Gets a Hilarious, Fan-Made Cover," 18 Apr. 2019 Two hero skin-care products Paltrow swears by are Vintner's Daughter's Active Botanical Serum and Goop's Exfoliating Instant Facial, both of which could definitely contribute to her flawless complexion. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "Gwyneth Paltrow Just Posted a Makeup-Free Selfie Après Ski, and She’s Glowing," 27 Mar. 2019 Chemical repellents have long been considered the best way to ward off mosquitoes and ticks, but many swear by foods and other deterrents rumored to be less toxic. Heidi Mitchell, WSJ, "Is There an Alternative Way to Prevent Bug Bites?," 28 July 2018 While studies have yet to confirm the claims, some swear by the product's ability to alleviate allergies, soothe stress, and promote better sleep. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Those Himalayan Salt Lamps Everyone's Obsessed With Now Come in Skull Form," 25 Sep. 2018

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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Statistics for swear

Last Updated

26 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for swear

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

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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

Comments on swear

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something of little or no value

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