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

As urban populations swell, cities and startups have been searching for fresh transportation solutions. Matt Mcfarland, CNN, "Scooters are a huge problem for cities. No one knows how to solve it yet," 30 Aug. 2019 The towering waves will still swell off of Half Moon Bay this winter, of course. Nico Savidge, The Mercury News, "Mavericks canceled: Organizers scrap iconic surf competition for fourth straight season," 30 Aug. 2019 No exaggeration: The lakes also swelled to their highest level in decades, causing havoc for both people simply wanting to enjoy the summer and endangered species that inhabit the area, the New York Times’ Mitch Smith reports. cleveland.com, "Midwest states are paying more attention to PFAs in drinking water: The Flyover," 26 Aug. 2019 Most of them are minor, such as pain, swelling, or redness at the injection site, or a low-grade fever, the CDC explains. Anna Borges, SELF, "10 Common Questions You Might Have About Vaccinating Your Kids," 26 Aug. 2019 Expect swelling, mild bruising, and tenderness for up to a week afterward (the bruising can be covered with concealer). April Franzino, Good Housekeeping, "How to Get Rid of Dark Circles Under Your Eyes," 26 Aug. 2019 Among other symptoms, measles can cause ear infections and diarrhea and more serious illnesses such as pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling around the brain), and even death. Los Angeles Times, "Amid measles warning for Disneyland, other L.A. tourist spots, here is what you need to know," 24 Aug. 2019 Once a year, the town of Darlington (pop. 500) holds an apple festival and its numbers swell a hundredfold. Mike Klingaman, baltimoresun.com, "Why you need to know ...: Elaine Calderon," 23 Aug. 2019 With fewer of a company’s shares available, the all-important metric of earnings per share swells—to the delight of investors. Larry Light, Fortune, "More than Half of All Stock Buybacks are Now Financed by Debt. Here’s Why That’s a Problem," 20 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

As the ship crane lowers black Zodiacs into the swell, the crew of the Resolute gives us our snorkel briefing: Here’s how to use your snorkel. Rowan Jacobsen, Outside Online, "An Ocean Plastics Field Trip for Corporate Executives," 8 Aug. 2019 Over a stormy three-month period from November 2018 to January 2019, the turbines survived extreme conditions while churning out 65% of their maximum capacity as a North Atlantic hurricane sent swells topping 27 ft. Michael J. Coren, Quartz, "Floating wind farms just became a serious business," 22 June 2019 Hundreds of surfers were in the area, battling to ride the waves as a swell setting off 6-foot waves crashed upon them, the Register reported. Fox News, "Surfer, 68, dies after being found face down during huge swell off California coast," 26 July 2018 Dora was an artist all day on the five-foot swell with his signature big-air maneuvers. Los Angeles Times, "Sage Erickson pays homage to her rival after winning U.S. Open of Surfing title," 4 Aug. 2019 Last summer, 94 percent of TSA PreCheck passengers waited less than five minutes, despite the swell of seasonal passengers. Eric Jordan, Condé Nast Traveler, "How Early Should You Get to the Airport?," 23 July 2019 The dealmaking in 2019 suggests that this long swell is finally subsiding. The Economist, "Investors and regulators fall out of love with colossal deals," 6 July 2019 In the waning moments, the swell of noise never died down. Ashley Scoby, Pro Soccer USA, "U.S., France atmosphere lives up to hype in World Cup prize fight," 29 June 2019 The designer, who started out wanting to be a painter, is also an author of five books on everything that's swell. Susannah Hutcheson, USA TODAY, "Cynthia Rowley: How I became a fashion designer," 13 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Mexico and China levied tariffs on U.S. pork and chicken products last year, helping swell domestic stockpiles to a record 2.6 billion pounds, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Jacob Bunge, WSJ, "Justice Department Investigates Chicken Industry," 25 June 2019 This engineering, accomplished in pieces over three centuries, often came at the behest of the swell-heads who bought up the valley and demanded protections against the river’s floods. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "On a Wild Patch of Mississippi Soil," 14 Aug. 2019 This is the home of the swell shark and chain catshark. Joanna Klein, New York Times, "How Sharks Glow to Each Other Deep in the Ocean," 8 Aug. 2019 This includes the chain catshark (Scyliorhinus retifer) and the swell shark (Cephaloscyllium ventriosum). Brian Clark Howard, National Geographic, "These sharks glow underwater—thanks to tiny ‘lightsabers’," 8 Aug. 2019 Both it and the swell shark are the only sharks known to give off a green glow when exposed to light. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "This shark glows using a process previously unknown to science," 8 Aug. 2019 Florida saw a swell in venture capital dollars raised from April to June, with South Florida companies making up nearly half, according to the second-quarter MoneyTree Report on venture capital. Marcia Heroux Pounds, sun-sentinel.com, "Magic Leap and other Florida tech companies raise big money," 16 July 2019 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

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

7 Sep 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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