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 lower half of Johnson’s body was weirdly swollen. Anna Claire Vollers | Avollers@al.com, al.com, "Deaths from pregnancy and child birth are often preventable; Alabama finally starts to take notice," 9 June 2019 What may not be normal though, is constantly feeling like your stomach is swollen. Colleen Stinchcombe, Woman's Day, "Why Am I Always Bloated?," 29 Oct. 2018 They were swollen, red, and just really, really angry. Andrea Cheng, Glamour, "Tatcha's Jelly Mask Smooths Your Lips Like No Lip Balm Can," 28 Sep. 2018 The hazards associated with this storm haven’t ended; rivers are swollen, and there’s a risk that dams could be breached. Brian Resnick, Vox, "Photos: what Hurricane Florence’s destruction looks like on the ground," 17 Sep. 2018 The bruises around my eyes shined a bright greenish-purple, and I was swollen all over with some intense pressure in my head. Allure, "I Got Rhinoplasty at 25 — Here's What to Expect From a Nose Job," 7 Aug. 2018 His legs are not swollen, indicating that the heart is pumping strongly enough to circulate his blood and other bodily fluids. Tom Avril, Philly.com, "He had 2 heart transplants. At 43, as a new dad, he needed a third," 13 June 2018 Its debt load has swelled due to acquisitions, and organic sales and earnings are growing slowly. The Motley Fool, The Seattle Times, "The Motley Fool: Explaining negative amortization," 18 May 2019 The Camp Fire has since swelled to over 100,000 acres by this morning, causing tens of thousands of residents flee their homes, and roughly 6,700 structures to be destroyed. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "At Least 9 Dead in California’s Most Destructive Wildfire in History," 10 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Instead of the two-foot swells the tanks could handle, the sea had as much as six-foot swells. oregonlive.com, "The brother I never knew, lost to my family on D-Day," 6 June 2019 But some Allied landing craft and amphibious tanks sank in swells, and men who stayed afloat were seasick. National Geographic, "'Top Secret' maps reveal the massive Allied effort behind D-Day," 3 June 2019 But McKenna knows that people have become conditioned to expect that perfect happy ending with a romantic kiss as the music swells and the credits roll. Sydney Bucksbaum, Teen Vogue, ""Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" Finale Gives Rebecca a Different Kind of Happy Ending," 6 Apr. 2019 Florence's effects were already being felt along the coast, with dangerous swells and rip currents in some spots. Nicole Darrah, Fox News, "Florence forecast to become 'major hurricane,' moving towards southeastern US," 2 Oct. 2018 Cupertino, a city of 60,000, sees its population swell every workday to about 180,000, as people who live in more-affordable towns cram Highway 85 to make it to their jobs in the city. Nour Malas, WSJ, "Cupertino City Council Balks at New Tax After Apple Objects," 1 Aug. 2018 These swells could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions. Jason Samenow, Washington Post, "Tropical Storm Chris predicted to strengthen to a hurricane by Tuesday off the coast of the Carolinas," 9 July 2018 The swell also will generate strong rip and side currents, creating hazardous conditions for swimmers and surfers. Gary Robbins, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Big surf through Tuesday, followed by monsoonal moisture, humidity," 11 June 2018 Rockfish and cabezon were on the bite at The Mill and other rocky spots when the swells would allow folks to fish the good spots. sacbee, "Fishing line: Lake Tahoe is full, the Delta is dirty and several rivers close | The Sacramento Bee," 9 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

On this particular occasion, a surfer who witnessed my struggle paddled up behind me and called me into a swell line. Karen Rinaldi, Glamour, "How I Stopped "Doing It For the 'Gram" and Learned to Love "Unlikeable" Moments," 22 May 2019 Which sounds like a pretty swell deal for a car that would beat every other car around Road Atlanta. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "Driving the Porsche GT3 RS and GT2 RS, the New Quickest Production Cars," 5 Apr. 2019 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

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

15 Jun 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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