swell

verb
\ ˈswel \
swelled; swelled or swollen\ ˈswō-​lən \; swelling

Definition of swell

 (Entry 1 of 3)

intransitive verb

1a : to expand (as in size, volume, or numbers) gradually beyond a normal or original limit the population swelled
b : to become distended or puffed up her ankle is badly swollen
c : to form a bulge or rounded elevation
2a : to become filled with pride and arrogance
b : to behave or speak in a pompous, blustering, or self-important manner
c : to play the swell
3 : to become distended with emotion

transitive verb

1 : to affect with a powerful or expansive emotion
2 : to increase the size, number, or intensity of swell the applicant pool

swell

noun

Definition of swell (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a long often massive and crestless wave or succession of waves often continuing beyond or after its cause (such as a gale)
2a : the condition of being protuberant
b : a rounded elevation
3a : the act or process of swelling
b(1) : a gradual increase and decrease of the loudness of a musical sound also : a sign indicating a swell
(2) : a device used in an organ for governing loudness
4a archaic : an impressive, pompous, or fashionable air or display
b : a person dressed in the height of fashion
c : a person of high social position or outstanding competence

swell

adjective

Definition of swell (Entry 3 of 3)

1a : stylish
b : socially prominent
2 : excellent used as a generalized term of enthusiasm

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Synonyms & Antonyms for swell

Synonyms: Verb

accelerate, accumulate, appreciate, balloon, boom, build up, burgeon (also bourgeon), climb, enlarge, escalate, expand, gain, increase, mount, multiply, mushroom, proliferate, rise, roll up, snowball, spread, wax

Synonyms: Noun

bulge, bunch, convexity, jut, overhang, projection, protrusion, protuberance

Synonyms: Adjective

A-OK, A1, awesome, bang-up, banner, beautiful, blue-chip, blue-ribbon, boffo, bonny (also bonnie) [chiefly British], boss [slang], brag, brave, bully, bumper, capital, choice, classic, cool [slang], corking, crackerjack, cracking, dandy, divine, dope [slang], down [slang], dynamite, excellent, fab, fabulous, famous, fantabulous [slang], fantastic, fine, first-class, first-rate, first-string, five-star, four-star, frontline, gangbusters (also gangbuster), gilt-edged (or gilt-edge), gone [slang], grand, great, groovy, heavenly, high-class, hot, hype [slang], immense, jim-dandy, keen, lovely, marvelous (or marvellous), mean, neat, nifty, noble, number one (also No. 1), numero uno, out-of-sight [slang], par excellence, peachy, peachy keen, phat [slang], prime, primo [slang], prize, prizewinning, quality, radical [slang], righteous [slang], sensational, slick, splendid, stellar, sterling, superb, superior, superlative, supernal, terrific, tip-top, top, top-notch, top-of-the-line, top-shelf, topflight, topping [chiefly British], unsurpassed, wizard [chiefly British], wonderful

Antonyms: Verb

contract, decrease, diminish, dwindle, lessen, recede, wane

Antonyms: Noun

cavity, concave, concavity, dent, depression, dint, hollow, indent, indentation, indenture, pit, recess

Antonyms: Adjective

atrocious, awful, execrable, lousy, pathetic, poor, rotten, terrible, vile, wretched

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Choose the Right Synonym for swell

Verb

expand, amplify, swell, distend, inflate, dilate mean to increase in size or volume. expand may apply regardless of the manner of increase (such as growth, unfolding, addition of parts). a business that expands every year amplify implies the extension or enlargement of something inadequate. amplify the statement with details swell implies gradual expansion beyond a thing's original or normal limits. the bureaucracy swelled to unmanageable proportions distend implies outward extension caused by pressure from within. a distended abdomen inflate implies expanding by introduction of air or something insubstantial and suggests a vulnerability to sudden collapse. an inflated ego dilate applies especially to expansion of circumference. dilated pupils

Examples of swell in a Sentence

Verb

Her broken ankle swelled badly. Heavy rains swelled the river. The population has swelled in recent years. The economy is swelling at an annual rate of five percent. Immigrants have swelled the population.

Noun

The storm has brought high winds and heavy swells along the coast. the swell of a pregnant woman's belly a swell in the population the swell of the music

Adjective

That was a swell party. what a swell time we had at the country club dance
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

First, the gig economy appeared swollen largely because the labor market earlier this decade was so weak for so long in the aftermath of the recession. Josh Zumbrun, WSJ, "How Estimates of the Gig Economy Went Wrong," 7 Jan. 2019 These fiber supplements absorb liquid in the intestines and swell up to form a large, soft, bulky stool, the presence of which prompts a normal bowel movement. Korin Miller, SELF, "5 Things You Need To Know About Using Laxatives For Weight Loss," 2 Jan. 2019 Amorphous, swelling shapes like these have appeared in art, design, and architecture for decades, exploding in the late ’90s, when designers gained access to computer technology that enabled their creation. Eliza Brooke, Vox, "Some people feel a tenderness toward bulbous candles and planters. Why?," 21 Dec. 2018 Since your feet usually swell throughout the day, your feet will be at their largest at night. Lexie Sachs, Good Housekeeping, "The 5 Best Hiking Boots for Women, Reviewed by Experts," 4 Dec. 2018 The New York Times has reported that the migrant caravan is believed to have begun as a small group in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and swelled amid publicity from Honduran television as migrants joined it to escape poverty and violence. Linda Qiu, The Seattle Times, "A Fact-Checker’s Guide to Thanksgiving Politics," 21 Nov. 2018 If pain continues after four or five days or there is swelling near the injection site, Stewart urges patients to call their doctor. Erica Sweeney, Teen Vogue, "Why Do Some Vaccines Hurt More Than Others?," 24 Oct. 2018 EVgo’s Levy is confident that demand for public chargers will swell as EVs become more mainstream and are embraced by apartment and condo dwellers. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "Electric cars still face a big hurdle: the charging system," 3 Oct. 2018 The supply of new teachers is declining, according to recent research, as the demand for educators is swelling. Philly.com, "The teacher supply is plummeting. Pa. will spend $2M to stem the tide," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Just over the horizon, the second-largest living coral reef in the world holds the swells at bay. Horatio Clare, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why You Should Go to Belize Now," 21 Dec. 2018 The September morning of our departure was sunny and clear, but large swells at Skellig Michael’s landing point were prohibitive and the trip was canceled. Margot Dougherty, WSJ, "In Ireland, a Getaway Far, Far Away," 6 Nov. 2018 The hurricane's swells are expected to hit Bermuda especially hard. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Florence Makes Landfall, Hundreds Already Need Evacuation," 14 Sep. 2018 The National Hurricane Center said that the swells generated by Florence would begin to affect Bermuda on Friday. Fox News, "FOX NEWS FIRST: Trump wants White House official behind NY Times op-ed ID'd; DOJ targets conservative censorship," 6 Sep. 2018 Even as the storm’s path takes it away from the United States, swells generated by Chris will affect portions of the coast from North Carolina northward to New England during the next few days, according to hurricane center forecasters. John Hilliard, BostonGlobe.com, "Beaches reopen, but officials warn swimmers of rip current risk along southern Mass. coast," 12 July 2018 While Chris is moving away from the U.S., some swells are expected to affect portions of the coast from North Carolina to New England. Stephen Ruiz, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Tropical Storm Chris expected to become post-tropical Thursday," 12 July 2018 On the East Coast, container ports in Norfolk, Va., and Savannah, Ga., reported swells in October imports. Erica E. Phillips, WSJ, "Imports Surge at U.S. Ports as Companies Brace for New Tariffs," 15 Nov. 2018 Large swells affecting Bermuda and portions of the U.S. East Coast will continue this week, resulting in life-threatening surf and rip currents. Brian Resnick, Vox, "Hurricane Florence: what we know about the powerful storm heading for the Carolinas," 10 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Thanks to their new friendship, everything is swell. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "Why do so many animated films have great stories? One secret: storyboarding.," 20 Nov. 2018 About 40 miles north of Salt Lake City International Airport, Ogden makes a swell base for skiing at both swank Snowbasin and scruffy Powder Mountain. Elisabeth Vincentelli, WSJ, "The Coolest, Under-the-Radar Ski Towns in the American West," 15 Nov. 2018 So, imagine my surprise to see on your Instagram account what a swell time you and your family had being entertained by the pros from Doha. Charles P. Pierce, SI.com, "Why Tom Brady Has No Business Promoting Qatar," 25 Apr. 2018 Sunday was a swell day at AT&T Park, the sun shining while the Giants beat the Rockies. Leah Garchik, SFChronicle.com, "Fine Arts Museums brand gets ‘refreshed’," 10 July 2018 Recalling the movie character encountered 20 years ago made for mutual swooning, swell moments of female bonding. Leah Garchik, SFChronicle.com, "From Russia and Germany, the bleak end of everything," 19 June 2018 In 2009, Florida International University's Board of Trustees bid farewell to its departing president of 23 years with a swell parting gift. Colleen Wright, miamiherald, "FIU board, eyeing opportunity and punishment, considers renaming Maidique campus," 18 June 2018 Unlike Ballast Point, Saint Archer had a swell ’17, with sales up 62 percent to 43,500 barrels. Peter Rowe, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Is the IPA — in all of its dark, white, aged, fresh, sour, sweet versions — here to stay?," 14 June 2018 The plan, which is also a response to a tougher competitive environment, is meant to juice brokers’ assets, swell bank deposits and funnel more clients into retail-bank products such as mortgages and credit cards. Lisa Beilfuss, WSJ, "Merrill Lynch Brokers Face Pay Clawbacks," 24 May 2018

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

Verb

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

Noun

1606, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1785, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for swell

Verb

Middle English, from Old English swellan; akin to Old High German swellan to swell

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Learn More about swell

Dictionary Entries near swell

sweety

sweir

Swekoman

swell

swellbelly

swell box

swell-butted

Statistics for swell

Last Updated

12 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for swell

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

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More Definitions for swell

swell

verb

English Language Learners Definition of swell

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: to become larger than normal

: to make (something, such as a river) larger or more full than normal

: to increase in size or number

swell

noun

English Language Learners Definition of swell (Entry 2 of 3)

: an upward and downward movement of the water in the sea

: the curved or rounded shape of something

: an increase in size or number

swell

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of swell (Entry 3 of 3)

: very good

swell

verb
\ ˈswel \
swelled; swelled or swollen\ ˈswō-​lən \; swelling

Kids Definition of swell

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : to enlarge in an abnormal way usually by pressure from within or by growth Her sprained ankle is swelling up.
2 : to grow or make bigger (as in size or value) The town's population swelled.
3 : to stretch upward or outward : bulge The sails swelled in the breeze.
4 : to fill or become filled with emotion His heart swelled with pride.

swell

noun

Kids Definition of swell (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a gradual increase in size, value, or volume a swell of laughter
2 : a long rolling wave or series of waves in the open sea
3 : the condition of bulging the swell of big muscles
4 : a rounded elevation

swell

adjective

Kids Definition of swell (Entry 3 of 3)

: excellent, first-rate We had a swell time.
\ ˈswel \
swelled; swelled or swollen\ ˈswō-​lən \; swelling

Medical Definition of swell

: to become distended or puffed up her ankle swelled

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More from Merriam-Webster on swell

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with swell

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for swell

Spanish Central: Translation of swell

Nglish: Translation of swell for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of swell for Arabic Speakers

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