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


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

Further Reading Rapid results in on climate change and the European heat wave The last week of July saw several days of sweltering heat around Western Europe. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Another European heatwave, another link to climate change," 3 Aug. 2019 Jamaica in June is sweltering, with only the northeast trade winds and the waters of the Caribbean to take the edge off. Dan Rys, Billboard, "In Jamaica With Island Records Founder Chris Blackwell," 12 Sep. 2019 The interior of the planes would get so hot while sitting on airport tarmacs during the summer — particularly in sweltering Texas — that passengers weren’t allowed to board until the cooling system got the temperature below 90 degrees. Mary Schlangenstein, chicagotribune.com, "American Airlines says goodbye to the MD-80 as jet that was once 44% of fleet makes its last flight," 4 Sep. 2019 The interior of the planes would get so hot while sitting on airport tarmacs during the summer — particularly in sweltering Texas — that passengers weren’t allowed to board until the cooling system got the temperature below 90 degrees. Mary Schlangenstein / Bloomberg, Time, "American Airlines Is Retiring a Plane That Pilots and Passengers Both Love and Hate," 4 Sep. 2019 Four employees of a South Florida nursing home where a dozen people died amid sweltering heat in September 2017 were arrested and charged with manslaughter and tampering with evidence, police said Tuesday. al, "Florida nursing home employees charged in 12 Hurricane Irma deaths," 27 Aug. 2019 States with weather similar to Florida’s, such as Texas, have passed laws to directly address the deaths of children such as Noah in sweltering day care vans. Andrew Boryga, sun-sentinel.com, "Children keep dying in hot cars as Florida legislators fail to act," 5 Aug. 2019 The Phoenix area will swelter under an excessive heat warning through Friday evening, but those high temperatures are also expected to signal the start of monsoon activity in the state. Weldon B. Johnson, azcentral, "Arizona monsoon season: High heat could bring storms in Tucson, dust in the Phoenix area," 10 July 2019 The Bay Area and the nation as a whole may have enjoyed a relatively mild July, but the rest of the world sweltered in record heat. Mercury News & East Bay Times Editorial Boards, The Mercury News, "Editorial: Hottest month ever heats up climate change debate," 18 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 Some of the country’s biggest cities can expect to swelter. Farah Stockman, New York Times, "Heat Wave to Hit Two-Thirds of the U.S. Here’s What to Expect.," 17 July 2019 This is a mysterious region far from the sun itself but swelters outer space with temperatures over one million degrees Fahrenheit. Dean Regas, Cincinnati.com, "Meet the storm in the sky that would engulf Earth if it weren’t 93 million miles away," 13 June 2019 From Gibraltar’s swelter to a frigid Norwegian fjord, the evolutionary biologist takes readers on an adventure in unexpected revelations about this lost lineage of humans. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, "The Best Science Books to Read For Summer 2019," 7 May 2019 When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico last summer, Richard Santiago and his family toiled in the swelter of a powerless apartment for weeks as mosquitoes swarmed their flooded home. Phillip Valys, sun-sentinel.com, "Warehouse District: How West Palm Beach’s newest nightlife village found suds, spirits and ‘soul’," 6 June 2019 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

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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Dictionary Entries near swelter

swell shark







Statistics for swelter

Last Updated

13 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for swelter

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

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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

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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

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to be made up of

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