sweep·​ing | \ ˈswē-piŋ How to pronounce sweeping (audio) \

Definition of sweeping

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the act or action of one that sweeps gave the room a good sweeping
2 sweepings plural : things collected by sweeping : refuse



Definition of sweeping (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : moving or extending in a wide curve or over a wide area
b : having a curving line or form
2a : extensive sweeping reforms
b : marked by wholesale and indiscriminate inclusion sweeping generalities

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Other Words from sweeping


sweepingly adverb
sweepingness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for sweeping

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of sweeping in a Sentence

Noun The porch needs a good sweeping. Adjective a sweeping view of the valley He dismissed the idea with a sweeping motion of his arm.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The sweeping has sparked fierce debate over the treatment of people without housing, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Marlene Lenthang, ABC News, "Police, protesters clash over sweep of Echo Park homeless encampment," 26 Mar. 2021 Over the short term, the reductions in street sweeping could still allow for a modest expansion in cleanings. David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times, "L.A. is cutting back on street sweeping. That could mean fewer parking tickets," 26 Feb. 2021 Though the buyout program helped the Bureau of Street Services to cut costs, the move to reduce street sweeping could take a big bite out the city’s revenue from parking tickets. David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times, "L.A. is cutting back on street sweeping. That could mean fewer parking tickets," 26 Feb. 2021 Before the sweeping was done, the first of the visitors arrived. Katy Reckdahl, NOLA.com, "After fireworks burn New Orleans house, Hollygrove neighbors come to aid widow," 2 Jan. 2021 Take an hour to hit the high-traffic spots: Change the sheets, fluff up some fresh towels, clear areas like tables and benches of those pesky piles of stuff and do a high-speed sweeping. Casey Barber, CNN, "This New Year's Eve, enjoy a simple celebration at home," 30 Dec. 2020 The services would include: tree trimming, weed whacking, street sweeping, re-painting light poles, removing graffiti, picking up trash, landscaping and power washing. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Barrio Logan business owners take on beautifying neighborhood, restoring shopping," 1 Nov. 2020 After three-and-a-half months of relatively smooth operations, however, the Ravens surely did not expect a blow this sweeping. Childs Walker, baltimoresun.com, "After whirlwind week, Ravens set for strangest game in team history — on a Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh," 1 Dec. 2020 Finally, the broom is stitched flat—the Shakers began doing this in the early 19th century, for more effective sweeping—and the ends are cut off even. Liz Logan, Smithsonian Magazine, "This Kentucky College Has Been Making Brooms for 100 Years," 26 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective That group, the Police Reform Commission, is recommending sweeping changes to police operations and tactics, eliminating some duties altogether and reducing the agency’s size and budget. Washington Post, "D.C. police, Howard University to host community forums on law enforcement," 10 Apr. 2021 Since then, the school has disciplined two employees and made several sweeping changes, including more staffing and resources for its Title IX office. Kenny Jacoby, USA TODAY, "LSU faces second federal investigation into handling of sexual misconduct allegations," 6 Apr. 2021 Major League Baseball plans to relocate the All-Star Game to Coors Field in Denver after pulling this year's Midsummer Classic from Atlanta over objections to sweeping changes to Georgia's voting laws, several reports say. CBS News, "MLB reportedly giving All-Star game to Denver after pulling it from Atlanta due to Georgia's new voting laws," 6 Apr. 2021 And some of those sweeping changes include provisions that are really actually tough to verify the accuracy of the vote. NBC News, "Meet the Press - March 28, 2021," 28 Mar. 2021 Her veto, which made sweeping substantive changes rather than small stylistic ones, was a flagrant violation of her powers and sets an unwelcome precedent for future governors to abuse their powers in a similar way. The Editors, National Review, "Kristi Noem’s Disappointing Capitulation," 26 Mar. 2021 The violent police response to many Black Lives Matter demonstrations across the country in the weeks after Floyd’s death only intensified calls for sweeping changes in American policing. Jake Pearson, ProPublica, "A Police Union Contract Puts Taxpayers on the Hook to Defend Officers When the City Won’t," 26 Mar. 2021 But some conservative legal groups are pushing the Court in this case to make some sweeping changes in constitutional law. Evan Gerstmann, Forbes, "On Monday The Supreme Court May Reveal Just How Conservative It Really Is," 21 Mar. 2021 On the Democratic side, the party’s more liberal members favor sweeping changes. Ryan Tracy, WSJ, "Congress Eyes Antitrust Changes to Counter Big Tech, Consolidation," 11 Mar. 2021

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1573, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for sweeping

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for sweeping

Last Updated

31 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sweeping.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sweeping. Accessed 17 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for sweeping



English Language Learners Definition of sweeping

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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



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

: including or involving many things : wide in range or amount
disapproving : too general : including or involving too many things or people
: having a curving form : forming a curve


sweep·​ing | \ ˈswē-piŋ \

Kids Definition of sweeping

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : moving or extending in a wide curve or over a wide area a sweeping driveway Jason dodged the sweeping blade.— Lloyd Alexander, Time Cat
2 : extensive sweeping changes



Kids Definition of sweeping (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act of cleaning an area with a broom or brush
2 sweepings plural : things collected by sweeping

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Comments on sweeping

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