\ ˈswēp How to pronounce sweep (audio) \
swept\ ˈswept How to pronounce sweep (audio) \; 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

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Verb

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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

Verb 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. Noun 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 The Cavaliers are the second team to sweep the first two rounds of the playoffs since the NBA expanded the first round to best-of-seven in 2003. Houston Mitchell Assistant Sports Editor, Los Angeles Times, "The Sports Report: LeBron James could return for the Lakers tonight," 11 May 2021 To keep your plants healthy and dust-free, gently wipe leaves with a damp cloth, or use a small, soft-bristled brush to sweep away buildup. Jessica Bennett, Better Homes & Gardens, "10 Places You're Forgetting to Dust That Could Be Affecting Your Home's Health," 11 May 2021 Pohorence then grabs the man’s shoulder and attempts to sweep his legs out from under him. Rafael Olmeda, sun-sentinel.com, "A cop is cleared after he placed his knee near the necks of two men," 7 May 2021 Bryant played a pivotal role in the Cubs’ 6-5 extra-innings walk-off win Wednesday to sweep the Dodgers. Meghan Montemurro, chicagotribune.com, "Kris Bryant is playing at an MVP level. But his athleticism and defensive versatility — at third base or in the outfield — have been a real asset to the Chicago Cubs.," 7 May 2021 As theEta Aquariid meteor showerpicks up steam these next several mornings – May 3, 4 and 5, 2021 – watch for the waning moon to sweep past the ringed planet Saturn and then the giant planet Jupiter. Todd Nelson, Star Tribune, "Cool Tuesday Sunshine. Rain Returns PM Wednesday," 3 May 2021 Daphne got two strong pitching performances and a seventh-inning rally in Game 2 to sweep Enterprise in the Class 7A playoffs Friday night. Ben Thomas | Bthomas@al.com, al, "Daphne scores 3 runs in the 7th, sweeps Enterprise in Class 7A playoffs," 1 May 2021 That would swell sales and Ebitda, enabling Musk to sweep the table. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "Elon Musk just unlocked the largest equity grant of all time during a single quarter," 30 Apr. 2021 As the Cincinnati Reds attempted to become the first team to sweep the Los Angeles Dodgers in a series since Aug. 2019, their challenge Wednesday was trying to solve future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw. Bobby Nightengale, The Enquirer, "'He was nasty': How Sonny Gray predicted his impressive start before Reds loss to Dodgers," 29 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Harvey and the Orioles lost 7-1 on Wednesday to the Mets at Citi Field, completing a brief two-game sweep in Queens following a much closer walk-off loss a night before. Jon Meoli, baltimoresun.com, "Mets greet Matt Harvey’s return with hit parade as Orioles lose 7-1; O’s vaccination rate allows for relaxed on-field restrictions," 12 May 2021 Boerne’s Cam Johnson went 4 for 7 with two triples as part of a two-game sweep of Cuero in a Class 4A first-round playoff series. David Hinojosa, San Antonio Express-News, "Baseball: Medina Valley's Magnum named E-N Player of the Week," 10 May 2021 The Angels made one postseason with Pujols on the roster, a three-game sweep in the 2014 ALDS. USA TODAY, "Los Angeles Angels DFA Albert Pujols, plan to release future Hall of Famer," 6 May 2021 Granada Hills made a move in the City Section, getting a two-game sweep of Chatsworth in the West Valley League. Eric Sondheimer Columnist, Los Angeles Times, "Prep Rally: Biggest track meet of the year is Saturday," 3 May 2021 Following a two-game sweep in New York against the Mets despite totaling just three runs on nine hits, the Sox were held to three hits and three walks by four Rangers pitchers. BostonGlobe.com, "Quiet bats, defensive lapses doom Red Sox in Arlington opener against Rangers," 29 Apr. 2021 Coming off a doubleheader sweep in Atlanta on Sunday in which Madison Bumgarner pitched a no-hitter and Zac Gallen threw a one-hitter in a pair of seven-inning shutouts, Merrill Kelly kept up the mound mastery. David Brandt, Star Tribune, "Kellys keep Diamondbacks rolling, beat Padres 5-1," 27 Apr. 2021 Lancaster’s boys and girls celebrated a sweep in the team competition. Greg Riddle, Dallas News, "2021 UIL regional track and field roundup: Coppell girls tie for title; Mesquite Poteet hurdler sets meet record," 25 Apr. 2021 Starting pitching had been the driving force behind the Brewers’ 11-7 record, including a three-game sweep in San Diego at the outset of this trip, but things went south quickly in this one. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Cubs 15, Brewers 2: With Milwaukee's starter injured in the first inning, Chicago's offense explodes," 23 Apr. 2021

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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Time Traveler for sweep

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for sweep

Last Updated

14 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sweep.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sweep. Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce sweep (audio) \
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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