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

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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 The luck of the Irish is coming in hot for St. Patrick’s Day Wednesday in Orlando as temperatures are forecast to swelter during the daytime. Joe Mario Pedersen, orlandosentinel.com, "Hot St. Pat’s Day for Orlando before a cool down into the weekend," 17 Mar. 2021 Summers may swelter, but winters are mild, making Houston an excellent escape from freezing temperatures elsewhere. Meena Thiruvengadam, Travel + Leisure, "Houston Travel Guide," 2 Mar. 2021 Denver is set to post a year’s worth of weather records in just a few days -- for heat and for cold -- while California will continue to swelter. Brian K Sullivan, Bloomberg.com, "Denver to Shiver and Sweat Through a Year of Weather in Days," 6 Sep. 2020 San Diego Gas & Electric has warned customers that more power outages could return as California and the large areas of the West continue to swelter from a stubborn heatwave. Rob Nikolewski, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Power outages in San Diego expected to continue," 17 Aug. 2020 More than 50 million people will swelter in highs over 100 degrees through next week. Jeff Berardelli, CBS News, "Sweltering heat wave bakes the western United States," 14 Aug. 2020 Those who cannot just swelter, exhausted in the dark. Louisa Loveluck, Washington Post, "Baghdad’s record heat offers glimpse of world’s climate change future," 12 Aug. 2020 The Midwest will swelter in above-average heat, with temperatures in the 80s under mostly sunny skies. Max Claypool And Judson Jones, CNN, "Most of the US will soar into the 90s this 4th of July," 2 July 2020 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Outside the city, farmworkers and outdoor workers swelter in temperatures that can reach 115 degrees or more in the hottest summer months. Erin Stone, The Arizona Republic, "Few resources, long distances and a fearless outlook make heat deadlier in rural Arizona," 19 Jan. 2021 In Australia, a bushfire has been burning out of control for six weeks now in the popular tourist spot of Fraser Island as parts of the country swelter through a record-breaking heatwave. Emma Reynolds, CNN, "Last month was the hottest November ever as Europe had its warmest fall on record," 7 Dec. 2020 Holding the Styrofoam box, the salty aroma dizzying in the mid-October swelter, Keown, 24, loses all willpower. Phillip Valys, sun-sentinel.com, "Gator bites and bikinis: Jay’s Sandbar BBQ feeds hungry boaters aboard Fort Lauderdale’s only floating restaurant," 14 Oct. 2020 Atlantic City and Cape May were tourist destinations by the mid-1800s, escapes from the undignified swelter and infectious diseases of Philadelphia. Jen Schwartz, Scientific American, "Surrendering to Rising Seas," 1 Aug. 2018 Two weeks before the Labor Day weekend, and 63 days after the solstice, plenty of summer still remained in Washington on Saturday, yet the season of swelter showed signs of steaming toward the end of its stay. Martin Weil, Washington Post, "It’s now two weeks till Labor Day weekend. Is summer’s lease expiring?," 23 Aug. 2020 The swelter is hardly the only challenge to outdoor service. Ian Mcnulty, NOLA.com, "How New Orleans restaurants transform to embrace outdoor dining, even in the summer," 10 Aug. 2020 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

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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Statistics for swelter

Last Updated

29 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Swelter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/swelter. Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for swelter



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

More from Merriam-Webster on swelter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for swelter

Nglish: Translation of swelter for Spanish Speakers

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