swel·​ter | \ ˈswel-tər How to pronounce swelter (audio) \
sweltered; sweltering\ ˈswel-​t(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce swelter (audio) \

Definition of swelter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to suffer, sweat, or be faint from heat
2 : to become exceedingly hot in summer, the place swelters

transitive verb

1 : to oppress with heat
2 archaic : exude sweltered venom— William Shakespeare



Definition of swelter (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a state of oppressive heat
2 : welter
3 : an excited or overwrought state of mind : sweat in a swelter

Examples of swelter in a Sentence

Verb We were sweltering in the summer heat. Noun the set designer spent the entire week before opening night in a swelter
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In a blistering hot June across the Northern Hemisphere, in which heat records have fallen on every continent, Japan is the latest to swelter. Washington Post, 25 June 2022 Phoenix could top 110 degrees one more day while eastern New Mexico and eastern Colorado will also swelter. Jason Samenow, Washington Post, 11 June 2022 Near record heat is possible Thursday in Orlando as summer-like temperatures continue to swelter around the area. Joe Mario Pedersen, Orlando Sentinel, 19 May 2022 They might not be prepared to swelter in Southern California in February. Los Angeles Times, 10 Feb. 2022 Rural eastern Oregon and Washington will feel the heat wave through the Fourth of July weekend, and eastern Idaho will also swelter. Madeline Holcombe, CNN, 28 June 2021 Nearly 1 billion people worldwide could swelter in more frequent life-threatening heat waves. New York Times, 9 Aug. 2021 Prepare to swelter and to pay more for the privilege. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 11 July 2021 Iraq last year recorded life-threatening record high temperatures of over 125 degrees, leaving many to swelter without electricity or even clean water. New York Times, 25 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The sun was blindingly bright, and the streets in Redding’s Buckeye neighborhood were mostly empty — anyone at home on this Tuesday afternoon was wisely staying out of the 100-degree swelter. Jessica Garrison, Los Angeles Times, 2 June 2022 Temperatures neared 90 but stopped short of the realms of true swelter. Martin Weil, Washington Post, 31 May 2022 Ironically, the tumult elevated Coi Leray’s profile, helping her emerge from the ever-growing swelter of rap acts churning out ephemeral TikTok froth for fleeting streaming notoriety, and solidifying her as a singular presence worth watching. Mosi Reeves, Rolling Stone, 8 Apr. 2022 Maria Conchita Pozar’s heart breaks to watch her 4-year-old daughter swelter in California's eastern Coachella Valley desert sun. Nada Hassanein, USA TODAY, 22 Jan. 2022 Saturday at Yellow Green Farmers Market in Hollywood, and customers taking shade from the summer swelter crowd around Monika Garone’s restaurant stall, clamoring to know why her fettuccine is purple. Phillip Valys, sun-sentinel.com, 27 Aug. 2021 Both figures may have showed a resurgent August, offering enough summer simmer to hold a place in the swelter sweepstakes. Washington Post, 15 Aug. 2021 The melody feels like steam rising from a blue line on an old map in that kind of swelter only Southern towns near water can muster, the chords moving slowly like a cloud of melancholy. Holly Gleason, Variety, 15 Aug. 2021 Tuesday showed us an afternoon with the solar dazzle of summer but without the swelter of true summer in Washington. Washington Post, 19 May 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'swelter.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of swelter


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


1851, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for swelter


Middle English sweltren, frequentative of swelten to die, be overcome by heat, from Old English sweltan to die; akin to Goth swiltan to die

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The first known use of swelter was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

3 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Swelter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/swelter. Accessed 4 Jul. 2022.

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More Definitions for swelter


swel·​ter | \ ˈswel-tər How to pronounce swelter (audio) \
sweltered; sweltering

Kids Definition of swelter

: to suffer, sweat, or be faint from heat

More from Merriam-Webster on swelter

Nglish: Translation of swelter for Spanish Speakers


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