\ 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


a swift and accurate response the sleekest, swiftest boat ever to have sailed in the regatta


tried to cross the swift-flowing river
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Roy’s fall from darling to dissident was swift, and her landing rough. Samanth Subramanian, The New Yorker, "The Prescient Anger of Arundhati Roy," 12 June 2019 The Arizona law that originated with Cobb's two bills was part of a swift, decisive and very public reaction in Arizona to the Biological Resource Center case. Stephanie Innes, AZCentral.com, "Despite 2-year-old state law, Arizona's body donation industry still unregulated," 10 June 2019 However, as contracts begin getting signed, there doesn't seem to be a swift resolution coming between the Bucks and restricted free agent Jabari Parker, the most interesting and critical piece of Milwaukee's summer puzzle. Matt Velazquez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "As the summer league starts, one piece of the Bucks' puzzle remains unsolved," 5 July 2018 His opinion reads largely as a response to Kagan and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote the dissent, and all but pushes for a swift resolution that spares the baker further legal troubles. Cristian Farias, Daily Intelligencer, "Justice Kennedy Has His Cake and Eats It Too in Gay Wedding Case," 1 June 2018 The reaction was swift and panicked: op-eds, hot takes, fevered discussion on Chua’s parenting style. refinery29.com, "Why We Hate (And Love) The Tiger Mom," 12 May 2018 The reaction to One Day at a Time's cancellation has been swift — and very critical of Netflix's decision. Allie Gemmill, Teen Vogue, "Netflix Cancelled "One Day At a Time" Because "Not Enough People Watched"," 14 Mar. 2019 There's a wider world watching, is that the United States of America and our allies will take swift and decisive action against any use of chemical weapons in Idlib province. Fox News, "Pence on impact of anonymous NYT op-ed, Woodward's new book," 9 Sep. 2018 The extradition process is not swift, and Assange could appeal several times if decisions go against him. Gregory Katz, The Seattle Times, "UK pressured not to overlook Swedish claims to Assange," 14 Apr. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

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

The process is simple, by judicial standards, and swift, by anyone’s reckoning. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Up in smoke: Why thousands of marijuana convictions were reduced and others were not," 10 June 2019 In the growth of biofilms, the race goes not always to the swift. Carrie Arnold, Quanta Magazine, "Building Codes for Bacterial Cities," 25 July 2017 Everyone, mothers especially, deserve swift and effective mental health care. Minhae Shim Roth, Glamour, "Postpartum Depression Treatment Made Me Feel Helpless—Women Deserve Better Options," 25 Mar. 2019 But under the surface there is a titanic struggle between the swift moving current in the channel and the ships’ engines. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "America's New Energy Coast," 19 Mar. 2019 Law and policy support such revocations, but as the swift and negative reaction in Washington showed, the president must take a nuanced approach. Sean Bigley, WSJ, "Trump Is Right About Clearances," 29 July 2018 On his watch, the Cold War ended, and the nation and its allies achieved a swift and crushing victory over Iraq in the Persian Gulf War — before a faltering economy largely doomed his reelection prospects. Lois Romano, Washington Post, "Barbara Bush, matriarch of American political dynasty, dies at 92," 17 Apr. 2018 Some consider the halal method of killing animals, which involves a prayer and swift, deep incision of the neck, to be more humane, though some animal welfare groups say animals should be stunned before slaughter. Greg Trotter, chicagotribune.com, "Amid growing interest in halal food, Navy Pier festival to celebrate Muslim lifestyle," 12 Apr. 2018 By using a tire, Brad manages to keep the log firmly in place, making the whole process as swift as slicing into an apple pie. Diana Bruk, Country Living, "This Simple Wood-Chopping Trick Is Absolutely Brilliant," 10 June 2015

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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Learn More about swift

Dictionary Entries near swift







swiftering line

Statistics for swift

Last Updated

17 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for swift

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on swift

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with swift

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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

Comments on swift

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


to take the place or position of

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