\ 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 The trickle-down effect could be swift and devastating, according to landlords, leaving them scrambling to find ways to pay their own bills, such as water, sewer and taxes at their buildings. Matthew Haag, New York Times, "This Brooklyn Landlord Just Canceled Rent for Hundreds of Tenants," 3 Apr. 2020 The coronavirus pandemic has crushed the oil industry, setting off a swift and unprecedented decline in demand for gasoline, jet fuel and diesel. Matt Egan, CNN, "A wave of oil bankruptcies is on the way," 2 Apr. 2020 In Delaware, the spike in unemployment claims was both swift and immense, said Shannon Lolley, who manages a team of unemployment staffers in Dover and Wilmington. Khristopher J. Brooks, CBS News, "Millions wait for jobless pay as state agencies overwhelmed by claims," 31 Mar. 2020 The damage is swift and cataclysmic, forcing difficult decisions. Gregory Barber, Wired, "In Crowded Hospitals, Who Will Get Life-Saving Equipment?," 31 Mar. 2020 The response from news organizations covering one of the world's biggest news events while watching the lifeblood of their businesses drain with each store closure and each shelter-in-place order has been has been swift and painful. Jessica Guynn And Michael Braga, USA TODAY, "Coronavirus' next casualty: The nation's biggest story could devastate news industry," 30 Mar. 2020 The fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has been swift and merciless. Kathryn Lindsay, refinery29.com, "For YouTubers, Quarantine Content Is The New Normal," 25 Mar. 2020 Absent swift and affirmative action, coronavirus could spread quickly among the most vulnerable Iraqis. Daniel Benaim, The New Republic, "The Coronavirus Could Kill Millions. U.S.-Iran Hostilities Will Make It Worse.," 23 Mar. 2020 My 63-year-old father died on Feb. 19 from a swift and painful battle with stage four lung cancer. Trisha Thadani, SFChronicle.com, "Grieving amid a pandemic: Finding new meaning in the coronavirus lockdowns after my dad died," 20 Mar. 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 Kensmil came up with it and, still on the ground, made a swift outlet pass to Bain, who cut in front of Duke senior captain Jack White and found himself alone near midcourt. Eliott C. Mclaughlin, CNN, "Nathan Bain's family in the Bahamas lost almost everything in Hurricane Dorian. He beat Duke for them, he said," 27 Nov. 2019 Since her son's death, Bibl has tried to make sense of his swift-killing illness. Sarah Elizabeth Richards, chicagotribune.com, "Few kids are vaccinated for Meningitis B. Here’s why.," 19 Sep. 2019 Execution by firing squad is both swift and virtually painless. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "'Unique request': Death row inmate asks to be killed by firing squad," 13 Jan. 2020 Domino > Knives Out Brian De Palma reexamines his Millennial politics — depicting the War on Terror in a swift, effective genre exercise. Armond White, National Review, "The 15th Annual Better-Than List," 3 Jan. 2020 Then on Monday, swift walked the red carpet at the premiere for Cats in New York — and she was also spotted walking hand-in-hand with boyfriend Joe Alwyn afterwards. Ashley Boucher, PEOPLE.com, "Taylor Swift Gets Surprise Birthday Party from Collaborators Jack Antonoff and Laura Sisk," 18 Dec. 2019 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

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

7 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Swift.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/swift. Accessed 8 Apr. 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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