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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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

His music is as magnetic as his stage presence, swelling to 60-foot crescendos courtesy of his large and massively talented band. Jeffrey Lee Puckett, The Courier-Journal, "Miss Day 1 of Forecastle? No worries, here are 5 things you missed!," 14 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 (about 1.5 square miles). NBC News, "Weather grants some relief as wildfires burn in West amid heatwave," 7 July 2018 The geopolitics of business means that the world’s biggest tech firms have swelled to combined market capitalisations of over $4trn without really going head to head. The Economist, "Chinese and US tech giants go at it in emerging markets," 5 July 2018 That number has since swelled to more than 830,000 followers. Nick Vadala, Philly.com, "West Chester-born drag queen Aquaria wins 'RuPaul's Drag Race'," 29 June 2018 The cops dropped him off in handcuffs so that he could be treated for three fractures to his eye socket and swelling to his brain. Michael Harriot, The Root, "All Black People Are Victims of Police Brutality," 26 June 2018 Militants from outside Libya joined them, until their numbers in the city swelled to about 2,000. William Langewiesche, The Atlantic, "An Extraordinarily Expensive Way to Fight ISIS," 21 June 2018 My leg, from toe to hip, turned black and yellow and eventually swelled to 24 inches, more than twice its normal circumference. Kyle Dickman, Outside Online, "A Rattle with Death in Yosemite," 20 June 2018 Irate that police shrugged as car break-ins swelled to an all-time high. Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, "Voters tune out rather than turn out for tame San Francisco mayor’s race," 5 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Family groups of sea otters bob in the swells, the lone males, with their grizzled, silver faces, lay back like old men in their recliners, pining away their days. Steve Meyer, Anchorage Daily News, "Even with one bad eye, Alaska’s Barren Islands are a sight to behold," 13 June 2018 Behind by double digits in recent polls and recognizing the swell of opposition, Persky, soft-spoken by nature, is trying to make his voice heard in the final days before voters decide his fate on June 5. Dan Simon, CNN, "Will voters bench the judge who gave a 6-month sentence in the Stanford sexual assault case?," 1 June 2018 If one side of the paper becomes damper than the other, the aligned fibers on that side swell, making the side longer. New York Times, "Straight Talk on Why Wrapping Paper Curls," 25 May 2018 The condition also causes his hands, feet and face to swell, making eating and walking extremely painful. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "This 2-Year-Old Suffers From a Mysterious and Agonizing Rash Every Month," 31 Mar. 2017 One of her favorite scenes is when Juliet, in despair, sits alone on her bed contemplating her next move as Prokofiev’s music swells. New York Times, "The Poetic Justice of Stella Abrera’s Juliet," 8 June 2018 Rough conditions were whipping up big waves off the eastern and northern Gulf Coast, and authorities warned swimmers to stay out of the surf because of life-threatening swells and rip currents. Jennifer Kay, BostonGlobe.com, "Alberto strikes Gulf Coast with dangerous surf, heavy rains," 28 May 2018 Jeffrey Medlin, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service's Mobile office, warned that even after the storm moves north there will still be swells coming up from the south that could cause dangerous rip currents. Tamara Lush And Rebecca Santana, chicagotribune.com, "Florida panhandle braces for impact as Alberto approaches," 27 May 2018 Without prior planning, such dramatic swells of migration could lead to major disruption and instability, the report says. Laignee Barron, Time, "143 Million People Could Soon Be Displaced Because of Climate Change, World Bank Says," 20 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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 Due to weather and temperature changes corrosion occurs between the nuts and the covers making them swell and separate as corrosion builds up between the two pieces. Bob Weber, chicagotribune.com, "Stick shifts and lug nuts offered up as theft deterrents," 13 May 2018 In this remote body of water, huge swell waves build and then ripple across the planet. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Record-Breaking Wave Reaches Height of 78.1 Feet," 14 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

Phrases Related to swell

a big/swelled head

Statistics for swell

Last Updated

21 Sep 2018

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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Comments on swell

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