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

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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 Farnsworth sweltered in the summertime because Mies gave her only one door and the smallest of openable windows, and no air conditioning. James Barron, New York Times, "When Mies van der Rohe Went on Trial," 17 Mar. 2020 As a whole, the Earth sweltered through its hottest September on record, the Copernicus Climate Change Service said Friday. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, "Blistering heat and little rain is causing a 'flash drought' in the South," 4 Oct. 2019 Australia has experienced one of the worst droughts in decades and sweltered under a record-breaking heat wave last week, when the average maximum temperature across the country hit 41.9 degrees Celsius (107.4 Fahrenheit). Chandler Thornton, CNN, "Sydney famous New Year's Eve fireworks display to go ahead amid bushfire threat," 29 Dec. 2019 Along with expanding drought conditions, many parts of the country have been sweltering under record October heat, with places from Florida to Indiana to New York showing temperatures of 90 degrees or above in the first few days of the month. Aj Willingham, CNN, "There's a severe drought in the South, and it's making the leaves change," 4 Oct. 2019 However, the Southeast was quite warm as Florida sweltered through its third-warmest June on record. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, "Summer swelter: Earth just had its hottest June on record," 18 July 2019 Families from the Himalayan region of Kashmir have traveled nearly 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) in sweltering heat to meet relatives being held in an Indian jail in the city of Agra. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Families struggle to meet Kashmiris lodged in Indian jail," 20 Sep. 2019 The advisory came as Massachusetts was expected to swelter through the fourth day of a heat wave Wednesday. Martin Finucane, BostonGlobe.com, "Severe thunderstorm watch issued for much of Mass. until 9 p.m.," 31 July 2019 During the summer, dozens of cities in the US sweltered under record-high temperatures and waited out historically long hot streaks. Aj Willingham And Judson Jones, CNN, "2019 had 3 of the warmest months on record. The rest weren't far behind," 17 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Michael Dwyer/Associated Press A game once played outdoors in subzero temperatures and wool sweaters may soon crown its champion during the swelter of summer. Andrew Knoll, New York Times, "National Hockey League Edges Toward Restart With Detailed Plans," 25 May 2020 The entire surface swelters at 900 degrees Fahrenheit, all day, every day. Dean Regas, Cincinnati.com, "Look up! That's not a star. It’s not a UFO. It’s the planet Venus," 25 Feb. 2020 More than 100 bushfires are raging in Australia as the continent swelters under record-setting heat, a double whammy of extremes that has amplified scrutiny of what experts say is stark inaction from the Australian government on climate change. NBC News, "Australia is on fire, literally — and so are its climate politics," 18 Dec. 2019 Stronger and stronger heat waves forced communities across the country and world into dangerous swelter. Alejandra Borunda, National Geographic, "The decade we finally woke up to climate change," 12 Dec. 2019 Perhaps fittingly, the first workweek of the District’s hottest month of the year ended Friday with the city again feeling the sweat and swelter of a heat wave. Martin Weil, Washington Post, "Friday caps District’s heat wave, but cooler days could be ahead," 5 July 2019 People sleep on the roofs to escape the indoor swelter. New York Times, "‘Our Patience Is Over’: Why Iraqis Are Protesting," 20 Nov. 2019 Experts say a flash drought often begins as a pin-sized swelter in one county, then expands like an amoeba across the landscape. Daniel Cusick, Scientific American, "As Temperatures Rise, “Flash Drought” Takes Hold Across South," 4 Oct. 2019 Atlanta won't escape the swelter and is expected to feel as hot as 103 on Tuesday. NBC News, "Dangerous heat wave blazes across large parts of Plains, South," 13 Aug. 2019

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.

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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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Time Traveler for swelter

Time Traveler

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

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Cite this Entry

“Swelter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/swelter. Accessed 13 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for swelter


How to pronounce swelter (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of swelter

: to be very hot and uncomfortable


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

Kids Definition of swelter

: to suffer, sweat, or be faint from heat

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More from Merriam-Webster on swelter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for swelter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with swelter

Spanish Central: Translation of swelter

Nglish: Translation of swelter for Spanish Speakers

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