\ 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 When Sonos said in late January that some of its earliest speaker models were going to lose full software support starting this spring, the backlash in the Sonos community was swift. Lauren Goode, Wired, "Sonos’ Fix for Aging Speakers Is Two Separate Sonos Apps," 17 Mar. 2020 Market reaction was swift, with the Dow tumbling by almost 5 percent. NBC News, "Large gatherings banned in San Francisco and Seattle," 11 Mar. 2020 Astros fans took the jab as an insult meant for their team, and the fallout was swift. Houston Chronicle, "Buffalo Wild Wings apologizes to Houston, but #BoycottBWW is still going," 17 Feb. 2020 The reaction to the report on Mr. Mackay’s messages was swift. Megan Specia, New York Times, "Scottish Official Quits Amid Reports That He Messaged Teen Hundreds of Times," 6 Feb. 2020 But advocates for people with mental illness argue that much more needs to be done to ensure swift and appropriate care for people suffering a psychiatric emergency, especially suicidal thoughts. Christine Vestal, azcentral, "'Arizona model' for behavioral health crisis care gains attention from other states," 21 Feb. 2020 The outcry was swift and immediate, with protesters showing up at airports and many Republicans criticizing the decision. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, "How the Trump Administration Uses the “Hidden Weapons” of Immigration Law," 13 Feb. 2020 Feedback from Avast users has been swift and voluminous. Kate Cox, Ars Technica, "Avast shutters data-selling subsidiary amid user outrage," 30 Jan. 2020 The various reactions were swift and went viral, quickly devolving into arguments between people who had no issues with his use of the expression and those who did. Saratu Abiola, Quartz Africa, "What Cardi B’s Lagos and Accra visits say about travel and media representations of Africa," 13 Dec. 2019 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

24 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Swift.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/swift. Accessed 3 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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