\ ˈswift How to pronounce swift (audio) \

Definition of swift

 (Entry 1 of 5)

1 : moving or capable of moving with great speed a swift runner
2 : occurring suddenly or within a very short time a swift transition
3 : quick to respond : ready



Definition of swift (Entry 2 of 5)

: swiftly swift-flowing



Definition of swift (Entry 3 of 5)

1 : any of several lizards (especially of the genus Sceloporus) that run swiftly
2 : a reel for winding yarn or thread
3 : any of numerous small plainly colored birds (family Apodidae) that are related to the hummingbirds but superficially much resemble swallows


biographical name (1)
\ ˈswift How to pronounce Swift (audio) \

Definition of Swift (Entry 4 of 5)

Gustavus Franklin 1839–1903 American meatpacker


biographical name (2)

Definition of Swift (Entry 5 of 5)

Jonathan 1667–1745 English (Irish-born) satirist

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Other Words from swift

Biographical name (2)

Swiftian \ ˈswif-​tē-​ən How to pronounce Swiftian (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for swift


fast, rapid, swift, fleet, quick, speedy, hasty, expeditious mean moving, proceeding, or acting with celerity. fast and rapid are very close in meaning, but fast applies particularly to the thing that moves fast horses and rapid to the movement itself. rapid current swift suggests great rapidity coupled with ease of movement. returned the ball with one swift stroke fleet adds the implication of lightness and nimbleness. fleet runners quick suggests promptness and the taking of little time. a quick wit speedy implies quickness of successful accomplishment speedy delivery of mail and may also suggest unusual velocity. hasty suggests hurry and precipitousness and often connotes carelessness. a hasty inspection expeditious suggests efficiency together with rapidity of accomplishment. the expeditious handling of an order

Examples of swift in a Sentence

Adjective a swift and accurate response the sleekest, swiftest boat ever to have sailed in the regatta Adverb tried to cross the swift-flowing river
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Troopers, the Scottsboro Rescue Squad and Buck’s Pocket State Park officials tried to find the vehicle when the search was postponed because of darkness and the water’s swift current. Howard Koplowitz | Hkoplowitz@al.com, al, "Search for missing vehicle under water in north Alabama unsuccessful Thursday," 6 Feb. 2020 Burrell was convicted and given a life sentence for the killing of Edwards after a swift police investigation that allegedly produced no DNA evidence, no gun, and no fingerprints to tie Burrell to the crime. Elly Belle, refinery29.com, "The Burrell Case Isn’t The First Time Amy Klobuchar’s Record Was Called Into Question," 5 Feb. 2020 The development corporation - the project developer and future manager of the property - had requested the swift sale to remain on track for a deadline next week to apply for Ohio Housing Finance Agency low-income housing tax credits. Robin Goist, cleveland, "Akron City Council approves plan for affordable housing for I Promise School families," 5 Feb. 2020 The World Health Organization praised and congratulated China for its swift response and transparency. Isabelle Niu, Quartz, "The coronavirus reveals China’s weakness in handling public health crises," 4 Feb. 2020 The bats’ super-powered volume helps them use echolocation to zero in on small, swift insect meals. Jessica Boddy, Popular Science, "Ranked: the loudest sounds ever measured," 3 Feb. 2020 Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes took a swift, sleek sports car to Sunday’s Super Bowl, metaphorically zooming onto football’s biggest stage. Ron Kroichick, SFChronicle.com, "Super Bowl QBs Garoppolo and Mahomes — different paths to the top of the NFL," 1 Feb. 2020 Wide and slow one minute, narrow and perilously swift the next. Carson Vaughan, Outside Online, "Blood. Bruises. Cow Pies. Our Anniversary on the "Divorce River"," 27 Jan. 2020 On foreign policy, his or her freedom of action is vastly greater. Foreign policy, too, unlike domestic issues, frequently entails surprises—the collapse of the Soviet Union, say—that demand a swift response in unexpected conditions. Jessica T. Mathews, The New York Review of Books, "Do the Democrats Have a Foreign Policy?," 16 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb That trip was referenced in the whistle-blower complaint that sparked the House’s swift-moving impeachment inquiry. Jennifer Jacobs, Time, "Energy Secretary Rick Perry Has Told Trump He Will Leave His Post Soon: Sources," 17 Oct. 2019 As of Monday, Golden Police Chief Bill Kilpatrick and Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Schrader are restricting water activities on Clear Creek because of swift-moving water and floating debris. Kirk Mitchell, The Denver Post, "Clear Creek tubing, swimming and body surfing banned as death toll on Colorado waterways continues to rise," 1 July 2019 By The Numbers 5 The forecast for Colorado’s 2019 whitewater rafting season: Rad, thanks to epic snowfall this winter that will likely spell swift-moving rivers. Joe Nguyen, The Denver Post, "Avalanche have 5th best odds to win Stanley Cup in 2020," 19 June 2019 The forecast for Colorado’s 2019 whitewater rafting season: Rad, thanks to epic snowfall this winter that will likely spell swift-moving rivers. Brittany Anas, The Know, "Hit these 5 Colorado rivers for amazing whitewater rafting this summer," 18 June 2019 The Trump Administration’s swift-moving plan to promote 5G networks is running into resistance from the weather-forecasting community. Drew Fitzgerald, WSJ, "Meteorologists Worry 5G Expansion Could Interfere With Weather Forecasts," 14 May 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun One of the more intriguing recent political developments in France, for instance, has been the far-right National Rally’s swift and increasingly successful move to outflank the leftist Green Party on ecological concerns. Thomas Chatterton Williams, Harper's magazine, "An Incoherent Truth," 20 Jan. 2020 For species already threatened with extinction, already clinging to the edge, this may have been the swift and final blow. Matt Simon, Wired, "Wildfires Are Obliterating Australia's Iconic Ecosystems," 8 Jan. 2020 In the weeks before Soleimani was killed, Iran was rocked by anti-government protests that prompted swift and deadly government crackdowns. NBC News, "Iran faces fresh protests after admitting it shot down plane, killing 176," 12 Jan. 2020 Presumably in an effort to widen its appeal, the orchestra in 2019 has pared its popular Christmas Concert into a swift, distinctly lightweight affair. Zachary Lewis, cleveland, "Cleveland Orchestra Christmas Concerts take a lighter, more festive turn in 2019," 16 Dec. 2019 The scandal was a swift and crushing fall from grace for the longest-serving active member of Congress. Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press, "U.S. Rep. John Conyers, former dean of Congress, dies at the age of 90," 27 Oct. 2019 No damage was reported, and communications after the quake were swift because authorities were already on duty for Karen, said Kiara Hernández, spokeswoman for Puerto Rico's emergency management agency. CBS News, "Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands brace for Tropical Storm Karen," 24 Sep. 2019 Survival will depend upon making a swift but considered appointment in December and good, experienced signings in January after their dire summer window. SI.com, "The Relegation Battle: 90min Predicts Which Premier League Teams Will Go Down This Season," 6 Nov. 2019 And that, dear readers, is when those rods, despite Bussert’s wrists appearing as firm as granite, suddenly moved in one, swift, perfectly parallel swoop to a picture of Lizzie hanging on the wall. Andrea Simakis, cleveland, "Did she or didn’t she? On the bloody trail of Lizzie Borden in Fall River, Mass.," 20 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'swift.' 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 swift


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined above


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for swift


Middle English, from Old English; akin to Old English swīfan to revolve — more at swivel

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Time Traveler for swift

Time Traveler

The first known use of swift was before the 12th century

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Statistics for swift

Last Updated

11 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Swift.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/swift. Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for swift


How to pronounce Swift (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of swift

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: happening or done quickly or immediately
: moving or able to move very fast
US, informal : smart or intelligent



English Language Learners Definition of swift (Entry 2 of 2)

: a small bird that has long, narrow wings


\ ˈswift How to pronounce swift (audio) \
swifter; swiftest

Kids Definition of swift

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : moving or capable of moving with great speed a swift river a swift runner
2 : occurring suddenly a swift kick a swift descent

Other Words from swift

swiftly adverb
swiftness noun



Kids Definition of swift (Entry 2 of 3)

: in a swift manner I crossed a swift-flowing river.



Kids Definition of swift (Entry 3 of 3)

: a small usually black bird that is related to the hummingbirds but looks like a swallow

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More from Merriam-Webster on swift

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for swift

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with swift

Spanish Central: Translation of swift

Nglish: Translation of swift for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of swift for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about swift

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