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

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of swelter in a Sentence


We were sweltering in the summer heat.


the set designer spent the entire week before opening night in a swelter

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

As Britain and Ireland have sweltered, heat waves have also struck Scandinavia, the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada, the Caucasus and southern Russia, and other regions. New York Times, "U.K. ‘Heat Wave’? Irish ‘Drought’? Unfamiliar Words for Unfamiliar Times," 4 July 2018 The area was hit by gusty winds that tossed embers and much of Southern California sweltered as temperatures topped 100 degrees in many areas. Fox News, "The Latest: New wildfires hit California, burning homes," 7 July 2018 The Los Angeles County coroner’s office is investigating the death of a 63-year-old U.S. Postal Service carrier who was found dead in her truck amid sweltering temperatures last week, the department said Monday. Alejandra Reyes-velarde, latimes.com, "Death of postal carrier found in her truck during heat wave in Woodland Hills is under investigation," 10 July 2018 Meanwhile, despite sweltering weather conditions north suburban residents gathered in Highland Park, Glenview, Arlington Heights and Barrington for their own rallies and marches. Steve Sadin, chicagotribune.com, "North suburban residents rally against border separations: 'I’ve never seen this before'," 2 July 2018 To cope with dry desert climate, oryx have a remarkable tolerance for sweltering heat and are able to withstand an internal body temperature of 116 degrees Fahrenheit, minimizing loss of water through sweat. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "New Artificial Insemination Technique Successfully Breeds Critically Endangered Scimitar-Horned Oryx," 10 July 2018 Many other areas were sweltering in record triple-digit temperatures earlier. CBS News, "Southern California heat wave breaks records," 6 July 2018 Heat domes are to blame for the nearly week-long stretch of sweltering heat in Greater Cincinnati. Sarah Brookbank, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati weather: Why is it so hot? Blame the heat dome," 5 July 2018 Remember when the Dolphins moved to 4 p.m. home games to help sweltering fans? Dave Hyde, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Hyde5: Here's why a fast start looks scheduled for Dolphins," 5 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

San Diego County continued to swelter, melt and burn Saturday with record-breaking heat for the second day. Pauline Repard, sandiegouniontribune.com, "San Diego County forecast this week: Hot, humid, cloudy," 7 July 2018 Confidence: High Tomorrow night: The midsummer swelter continues overnight. Brian Jackson, Washington Post, "D.C.-area forecast: Sweltering conditions will persist through Independence Day," 1 July 2018 This boundary separates early March-level temperatures from midsummer swelter. Tom Skilling, chicagotribune.com, "Storms threaten area with heavy rain and hail," 11 May 2018 In the absence of El Nino, the swelter of 2017 was unprecedented. Tom Randall, Bloomberg.com, "Earth’s Relentless Warming Sets a Brutal New Record in 2017," 18 Jan. 2018 Only a handful of motor vehicles are allowed on the island; transportation is mainly the domain of donkeys or men pushing wooden carts through the tropical swelter. National Geographic, "As the World Cuts Back on Coal, a Growing Appetite in Africa," 10 May 2017 Yet there were upsides: namely, shells that slid off with nary a nick and entirely avoiding the swelter of stovetop boiling. Sarah Karnasiewicz, WSJ, "Can the Instant Pot Cook as Well as Julia Child?," 6 July 2017 In late May, mercury readings soared to 128.3 degrees in Pakistan, a swelter that coincided with Ramadan, when millions of Pakistanis forgo water and food from sunrise to sunset. Rachel Kyte, Time, "Air Conditioning Is a Lifesaver. It’s Also a Potential Disaster," 3 Aug. 2017 Those cities, and much of the Pacific Northwest, are in the third — and likely worst — day of a blistering heat wave that has slammed cities that usually escape the worst of the summer swelter. Jen Kirby, Daily Intelligencer, "Extreme Heat Wave Is Cooking the Pacific Northwest," 3 Aug. 2017

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about swelter

Dictionary Entries near swelter

swell shark







Statistics for swelter

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for swelter

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on swelter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with swelter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for swelter

Spanish Central: Translation of swelter

Nglish: Translation of swelter for Spanish Speakers

Comments on swelter

What made you want to look up swelter? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


having no equal

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!