swell

verb
\ ˈswel How to pronounce swell (audio) \
swelled; swelled or swollen\ ˈswō-​lən How to pronounce swollen (audio) \; 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

The companies opposed a cap on for-hire vehicle licenses enacted by New York City in 2018 to stem the growth of ride-hailing cars, which have swelled to 80,000 vehicles in about five years. Paul Berger, WSJ, "Unusual Alliance Leads Congestion-Pricing Movement," 21 Feb. 2019 The aircraft program, which had the backing of the late U.S. senator John S. McCain, was set to be funded to the tune of approximately $1.2 billion and could have swelled to a fleet of 300 planes. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The U.S. Air Force May Not Buy New Stealth Tanker After All, and the Light Attack Aircraft Could be Dead Too," 30 Jan. 2019 Mattis may have acted for political reasons The caravan started to move its way northward in mid-October, swelling to a few thousand people along the way. Alex Ward, Vox, "Mattis: military deployment to the US-Mexico border is “necessary”," 14 Nov. 2018 As their numbers swell to 73 million, by 2019, millennials are expected to overtake boomers in population, says Pew Research. Erik Lacitis, The Seattle Times, "Why are the oldest Americans three times as likely to vote as millennials? Two voters, ages 90 and 21, offer clues," 7 Nov. 2018 The straphanger suffered bruising and swelling to his face. Katherine Lam, Fox News, "Person of interest ID'd in Times Square subway station attack," 2 Oct. 2018 By daylight, local people were bringing food, a corps of volunteer cooks that would swell to more than a hundred. Shibani Mahtani, Washington Post, "‘Time is running out’: Inside the treacherous rescue of boys trapped in a Thai cave," 13 July 2018 East of Los Angeles in the San Bernardino National Forest, authorities ordered the evacuation of the community of Forest Falls, which has about 700 homes, as a quick-moving wildfire swelled to 1,000 acres. CBS News, "New fires sweep through sweltering Southern California," 7 July 2018 Whatever the cause, symptoms of vulvovaginitis include itching, burning, and swelling, all of which sitz baths may help to subdue, Dr. Tully says. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "What the Hell Is a Sitz Bath? (And Why Would You Take One?)," 14 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The National Hurricane Center advises the swells could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions over the next few days forsome portions of the coast from North Carolina to some mid-Atlantic states. CBS News, "Hurricane Chris strengthens as it moves away from U.S.," 10 July 2018 This surrounds components like the urethra and swells in order to allow erections. 2. Zahra Barnes, SELF, "11 Things Everyone Should Know About Uncircumcised Penises," 29 Dec. 2018 Earlier Tuesday, the weather service issued a hurricane warning for Hawaii island and a hurricane watch for Oahu, Maui and other smaller islands, meaning tropical storm-force winds, excessive rain and large swells could arrive starting Wednesday. Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, Fox News, "Hawaii residents brace themselves as hurricane strengthens," 22 Aug. 2018 The swells, the potentates would have gone off with their concubines and pet slaves and soldier guards . . . Lance Morrow, WSJ, "Did Chivalry Go Down With the Titanic?," 14 Dec. 2018 The swell, the Times said, is largely due to Trump’s massive tax cuts to corporations. Sarah Mearhoff, Teen Vogue, "Donald Trump's Tax Cuts Are Reducing Corporate Taxes and Increasing the Deficit," 26 July 2018 But as the Texas Tribune’s Alexa Ura and Ryan Murphy point out, Texas’s turnout is also deeply tied to demographics: Hopes for a swell in voter turnout often hinge on the state’s burgeoning Hispanic population. Tara Golshan, Vox, "Beto O’Rourke could lead a blue wave in Texas — even though he lost his Senate race," 7 Nov. 2018 Emanuel received swells of approval on Twitter, with over 2,800 retweets by Saturday afternoon. Marina Pitofsky, USA TODAY, "Chicago mayor claps back at Illinois governor after activists shut down expressway," 7 July 2018 Since last year, Beijing has been trying to control the swell of debt accumulated by companies and local governments that economists warn could derail the economy long-term. WSJ, "China’s Push to Tame Debt Starts to Sting Economy," 14 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Even so, the ship displaces so much water that a swell rolls along the channel’s side. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "America's New Energy Coast," 19 Mar. 2019 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

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

6 Apr 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)

US, informal + old-fashioned : very good

swell

verb
\ ˈswel How to pronounce swell (audio) \
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 How to pronounce swell (audio) \
swelled; swelled or swollen\ ˈswō-​lən How to pronounce swollen (audio) \; 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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