\ˈswēp \
swept\ˈswept \; sweeping

Definition of sweep 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to remove from a surface with or as if with a broom or brush swept the crumbs from the table

b : to destroy completely : wipe out usually used with away everything she cherished, might be swept away overnight— Louis Bromfield

c : to remove or take with a single continuous forceful action swept the books off the desk

d : to remove from sight or consideration the problem can't be swept under the rug

e : to drive or carry along with irresistible force a wave of protest that swept the opposition into office

2a : to clean with or as if with a broom or brush

b : to clear by repeated and forcible action

c : to move across or along swiftly, violently, or overwhelmingly fire swept the business districtAmer. Guide Series: Md.

d : to win an overwhelming victory in or on sweep the elections

e : to win all the games or contests of sweep a double-header sweep a series

3 : to touch in passing with a swift continuous movement

4 : to trace or describe the locus or extent of (something, such as a line, circle, or angle)

5 : to cover the entire range of his eyes swept the horizon

intransitive verb

1a : to clean a surface with or as if with a broom

b : to move swiftly, forcefully, or devastatingly the wind swept through the treetops

2 : to go with stately or sweeping movements proudly swept into the room

3 : to move or extend in a wide curve or range

sweep one off one's feet

: to gain immediate and unquestioning support, approval, or acceptance by a person

sweep the board or sweep the table

1 : to win all the bets on the table

2 : to win everything : beat all competitors



Definition of sweep (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something that sweeps or works with a sweeping motion: such as

a : a long pole or timber pivoted on a tall post and used to raise and lower a bucket in a well

b : a triangular cultivator blade that cuts off weeds under the soil surface

c : a windmill sail

2a : an instance of sweeping especially : a clearing out or away with or as if with a broom

b : the removal from the table in one play in casino of all the cards by pairing or combining

c : an overwhelming victory

d : a winning of all the contests or prizes in a competition

e : a wide-ranging search of an area (as by police)

3a : a movement of great range and force

b : a curving or circular course or line

c : the compass of a sweeping movement : scope

d : a broad unbroken area or extent a sweep of wildflowers

e : an end run in football in which one or more linemen pull back and run interference for the ballcarrier

6 : obliquity with respect to a reference line sweep of an airplane wing especially : sweepback

7 sweeps plural : a television ratings period during which surveys are taken to determine advertising rates

Illustration of sweep

Illustration of sweep


sweep 1a

In the meaning defined above

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Synonyms & Antonyms for sweep

Synonyms: Verb

bowl, breeze, brush, coast, cruise, drift, flow, glide, roll, sail, skim, slide, slip, stream, whisk

Synonyms: Noun

ambit, amplitude, breadth, compass, confines, dimension(s), extent, range, reach, realm, scope, width

Antonyms: Verb

flounder, struggle

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Choose the Right Synonym for sweep


range, gamut, compass, sweep, scope, orbit mean the extent that lies within the powers of something (as to cover or control). range is a general term indicating the extent of one's perception or the extent of powers, capacities, or possibilities. the entire range of human experience gamut suggests a graduated series running from one possible extreme to another. a performance that ran the gamut of emotions compass implies a sometimes limited extent of perception, knowledge, or activity. your concerns lie beyond the narrow compass of this study sweep suggests extent, often circular or arc-shaped, of motion or activity. the book covers the entire sweep of criminal activity scope is applicable to an area of activity, predetermined and limited, but somewhat flexible. as time went on, the scope of the investigation widened orbit suggests an often circumscribed range of activity or influence within which forces work toward accommodation. within that restricted orbit they tried to effect social change

Examples of sweep in a Sentence


He swept the dirt off the driveway. He swept the crumbs from the table. I need to sweep the kitchen. Are you finished sweeping the porch? A storm swept across the plains. Fires swept through the forest. She proudly swept into the room. The limo swept up to the door. He swept the curtains aside. She swept the books off the desk.


Mrs. Griswold has been a teacher for so long that the sweep of her influence extends across three generations of the townspeople.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But he was swept aside this year by Democratic enthusiasm in the midterm backlash against President Donald Trump. Jim Brunner, The Seattle Times, "Map: Kim Schrier won big in King County suburbs, even in Dino Rossi’s neighborhood," 14 Nov. 2018 To be able to express that in a movie, in a non-didactic way, through action, through a narrative that’s constructed in a way that you just get swept up, is a beautiful thing. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "How Willem Dafoe learned to paint like Vincent Van Gogh," 14 Nov. 2018 José eventually met me there, and we were soon swept up into one euphoric sea of blue and white. Candace Rose Rardon, Longreads, "The Country Where Fútbol Comes First," 10 July 2018 Three members of controversial social-media collective High on Life were killed when they were swept over a waterfall in Canada. Wes Siler, Outside Online, "Doing It for the ‘Gram Turns Deadly," 9 July 2018 And on June 29, Saudi college students Theeb Alyami, 27, and Jaser Daham Alrakah, 25, drowned after they were swept away in the Chicopee River in Wilbraham, according to the Hampden district attorney. Jeremy C. Fox, Amelia Nierenberg, BostonGlobe.com, "State officials, families alarmed by spate of drowning deaths," 8 July 2018 Three Canadian social media celebrities died Tuesday after they were swept over a 100-foot waterfall at Shannon Falls, near Squamish, British Columbia, the CBC reports. Bijan Stephen, The Verge, "Three YouTube travel influencers die in waterfall accident in British Columbia," 6 July 2018 They were then swept by the Mets, setting up a five-game losing streak that left them three-and-a-half games back in the division. Emma Baccellieri, SI.com, "What Is Wrong With the Washington Nationals?," 6 July 2018 His friends tried to help him, but the current was too strong and he was swept away. Chelsea Prince, ajc, "Body of Valdosta State student pulled from Mississippi River," 3 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Rossi ran again for governor in 2008 but lost in a big Democratic sweep powered by the election of Barack Obama as president. Jim Brunner, The Seattle Times, "Kim Schrier leads Dino Rossi in 8th Congressional District," 6 Nov. 2018 The case began when at least 50 Thai Muslims, mostly students at Bangkok's Ramkhamhaeng University, were rounded up in joint police-military sweeps on Oct. 10, 2016. Fox News, "Thai court finds 9 Muslim men guilty in Bangkok bomb plot," 25 Sep. 2018 Rather than your typical blogger-esque blunt cut, the RiRi bob seems to be tapered a little, with textured ends, a softer shape and an effortless side sweep for extra volume. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Rihanna Got a Bob Haircut and It's Already My Summer Hair Inspo," 26 July 2018 Such was the case Thursday for Cole Hamels as the Texas Rangers took a day off following a three-game sweep by the Boston Red Sox. Jeff Wilson, star-telegram, "How Hamels’ start on Friday could impact chances of a trade from Rangers," 12 July 2018 All three homered during New Hampshire’s trip to Hartford in May, a three-game sweep. Dom Amore, courant.com, "Top Prospects, Hall-Of-Famers' Sons, And Tim Tebow: Highlights From The First Half Of The Yard Goats' Season," 8 July 2018 Cousins went down before Davis led the Pelicans to a first-round sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers. Sam Amick, USA TODAY, "DeMarcus Cousins agrees to sign with Golden State Warriors on one-year, $5.3 million deal," 2 July 2018 DeGraba hits play on the slide, and waves of activity sweep across the side of the man’s brain. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "The Heroes of Science Who Are Unlocking the Brain," 3 Oct. 2018 Two of the three Fifth Circuit judges ruled that the FHFA profit sweep was legal under the congressional statute. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Calling Judge Kavanaugh," 29 July 2018

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for sweep


Middle English swepen; akin to Old English swāpan to sweep, Old High German sweifen to wander

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Statistics for sweep

Last Updated

2 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sweep

The first known use of sweep was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for sweep



English Language Learners Definition of sweep

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to remove (something, such as dust or dirt) from a surface with a broom or brush or with a quick movement of your hand, fingers, etc.

: to remove dust, dirt, etc., from (something) with a broom or brush

: to move or pass quickly, forcefully, or smoothly



English Language Learners Definition of sweep (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act of cleaning an area with a broom or brush

: a long, smooth movement often in a wide curve

: a large area of land often forming a wide curve


\ˈswēp \
swept\ˈswept \; sweeping

Kids Definition of sweep

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to remove with a broom or brush Please sweep up the dirt.

2 : to clean by removing loose dirt or small trash with a broom or brush I need to sweep the floor.

3 : to move over or across swiftly often with force or destruction Fire swept the village.

4 : to move or gather as if with a broom or brush I swept the money from the table.

5 : to move the eyes or an instrument through a wide curve They swept the hill for some sign of the enemy.

6 : to touch a surface of quickly The musician's fingers swept the piano keys.

7 : to drive along with steady force Debris was swept away by the tide.

8 : to become suddenly very popular throughout It's a show that is sweeping the nation.

9 : to achieve a complete or easy victory

Other Words from sweep

sweeper noun



Kids Definition of sweep (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a curving movement, course, or line I brushed it away with a sweep of my hand.

2 : an act or instance of cleaning with a broom or brush

3 : a wide stretch or curve of land

4 : something that sweeps or works with a sweeping motion

5 : a complete or easy victory

6 : range entry 1 sense 2, scope The island was outside the sweep of our vision.

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More from Merriam-Webster on sweep

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sweep

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sweep

Spanish Central: Translation of sweep

Nglish: Translation of sweep for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sweep for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about sweep

Comments on sweep

What made you want to look up sweep? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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