\ 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 Swift (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 By most accounts law enforcement's reaction to Friday's vehicle attack at the Capitol was swift. Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY, "'Can't wait for Jesus to come fix this': New Capitol attack reveals ongoing security gaps, depleted police force," 3 Apr. 2021 In early 2020, when 16-year-old Selena Not Afraid disappeared from a New Year’s party in Big Horn County, Montana, the reaction was swift and the response from law enforcement was robust. Michael Balsamo, Anchorage Daily News, "Justice Department working with tribes on missing and murdered Indigenous women," 2 Apr. 2021 Reaction was swift among surfers and nonsurfers who put surf culture on notice. Los Angeles Times, "Art and anti-racism in surf culture: Can an inclusive designer change things?," 1 Apr. 2021 If George Floyd had been white, the facts would be undisputed and justice would be swift. Bill Hutchinson, ABC News, "Full jury seated in trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin," 23 Mar. 2021 The case against her violent ex would stretch on for months, but the eviction that stemmed from the assault — considered disturbing the peace under apartment rules — was swift. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Some Utah landlords are evicting domestic violence victims," 19 Mar. 2021 The fallout was swift, with major Portland restaurant groups including Olympia Provisions and Ava Gene’s posting apologies for previous bad behavior. Michael Russell, oregonlive, "10 days that defined a year of upheaval for Portland restaurants," 17 Mar. 2021 While news of those incidents was slow to trickle out in the mainstream press, reaction from the Asian-American community was swift. Rosalie Cabison, Rolling Stone, "What You Can Do About Anti-Asian Violence: ‘We Are Part of This Country,’ Activists Say," 17 Mar. 2021 But the backlash against the proposal was swift, with online petitions against it receiving tens of thousands of signatures. Annie Martin, orlandosentinel.com, "Proposal to limit Bright Futures scholarships to receive first hearing in Florida Senate," 16 Mar. 2021 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 His play was solid and clean, artful and efficient, his hyper-tapping swift and precise. Jacob Sweet, The New Yorker, "The Revolution in Classic Tetris," 26 Mar. 2021 Still, Sentinelle is an admirably swift, elegantly filmed spine-snapping action thriller with moments of surprising grace. Bilge Ebiri, Vulture, "Think of Netflix’s Sentinelle As John Wick on the Riviera," 12 Mar. 2021 Critics of a swift reopening of schools note that high percentages of Black and Latino parents do not want their children back in classrooms, citing the pandemic’s disproportionately deadly impact on their communities. New York Times, "Oregon Is Vaccinating Teachers. It Might Not Be Enough to Reopen Schools.," 17 Feb. 2021 Maryland’s swift and far-reaching plan to reopen businesses and public venues took many key stakeholders by surprise, interviews with officials, business and health leaders show, and went further than some industry representatives had requested. Washington Post, "Hogan’s decision to reopen Maryland surprised local officials, business leaders," 10 Mar. 2021 Applicants should make thoughtful—but swift—edits to their résumé and cover letter, Indeed’s Mr. Bonneau said. Kathryn Dill, WSJ, "Hiring Has Restarted. Here’s What You Need to Know to Land a New Job, Now," 7 Mar. 2021 The species that declined from Grinnell’s time were the ones that had the most difficulty keeping cool, notably larger birds, especially those like the violet-green swallow and the white-throated swift that get most of their water from insects. Jim Morrison, Wired, "What a 1900s Wildlife Survey Reveals About Climate Change," 23 Feb. 2021 The gray Ohio River below them, a swift-rippling ribbon. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "'This Close to Okay' Is Our March Book Club Pick," 22 Feb. 2021 Adrian Gaddies also coached Boutte in track at nearby Hunter’s Field, where she was known as a swift-footed sprinter who would later set records at Louisiana State University. Katy Reckdahl | Staff Writer, NOLA.com, "In green feathered suit, well-known Mardi Gras Indian queen Kim Boutte laid to rest," 22 Aug. 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

6 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Swift.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/swift. Accessed 15 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for swift



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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Comments on swift

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