1

swell

verb \ ˈswel \

Definition of swell

swelled; swelled or swollen play \ˈswō-lən\; swelling
intransitive verb
1 a :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
2 a :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

Examples of swell in a Sentence

  1. Her broken ankle swelled badly.

  2. Heavy rains swelled the river.

  3. The population has swelled in recent years.

  4. The economy is swelling at an annual rate of five percent.

  5. Immigrants have swelled the population.

Recent Examples of swell from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of swell

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

Synonym Discussion of swell

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

2

swell

noun

Definition of swell

1 :a long often massive and crestless wave or succession of waves often continuing beyond or after its cause (such as a gale)
2 a :the condition of being protuberant
b :a rounded elevation
3 a :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
4 a 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

Examples of swell in a Sentence

  1. The storm has brought high winds and heavy swells along the coast.

  2. the swell of a pregnant woman's belly

  3. a swell in the population

  4. the swell of the music

Recent Examples of swell from the Web

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.

First Known Use of swell

1606


3

swell

adjective

Definition of swell

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

Examples of swell in a Sentence

  1. That was a swell party.

  2. what a swell time we had at the country club dance

Recent Examples of swell from the Web

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.

First Known Use of swell

1785

swell Synonyms

Synonyms
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, 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, excellent, terrific, tip-top, top, top-flight, top-notch, top-of-the-line, topping [chiefly British], top-shelf, unsurpassed, wizard [chiefly British], wonderful
Antonyms
atrocious, awful, execrable, lousy, pathetic, poor, rotten, terrible, vile, wretched
Related Words
acceptable, adequate, all right, decent, good, OK (or okay), passable, satisfactory, tolerable; better, exceptional, fancy, high-grade, high-test, premium, select, special, superfine; classical, standard, traditional
Near Antonyms
bad, inferior, low-grade, substandard, unsatisfactory; mediocre, middling, second-class, second-rate


SWELL Defined for English Language Learners

swell

verb

Definition of swell for English Language Learners

  • : 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

Definition of swell for English Language Learners

  • : 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

Definition of swell for English Language Learners

  • : very good


SWELL Defined for Kids

1

swell

verb \ ˈswel \

Definition of swell for Students

swelled; swelled or swollen \ˈswō-lən\; swelling
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.

2

swell

noun

Definition of swell for Students

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

3

swell

adjective

Definition of swell for Students

:excellent, first-rate
  • We had a swell time.

Medical Dictionary

swell

intransitive verb \ ˈswel \

medical Definition of swell

swelled; swelled or swollen play \ˈswō-lən\; swelling
:to become distended or puffed up
  • her ankle swelled


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