\ 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

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 In the spring of 2017, the critique of Agrawal was swift and widespread. Eliza Brooke, Glamour, "Is the World Ready for Miki Agrawal and Her Next Big Idea?," 4 Apr. 2019 For her daughter Olivia Jade, the consequences have been equally swift. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Hallmark Drops Lori Loughlin and Sephora Dumps Olivia Jade in Fallout from the College Scandal," 14 Mar. 2019 But when Julia Roberts opened that envelope and revealed that this year's winner was Green Book—the 1960s-set race relations drama which has become a lightning rod for controversy since its November release—the online reaction was swift and brutal. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Green Book Won Best Picture and Twitter Is Not Happy," 25 Feb. 2019 And many of the big technology and internet stocks like Facebook Inc. and Netflix Inc. that led the fourth-quarter selloff have surged more than 25% this year, prompting some investors to fear the bounceback has been too swift. Amrith Ramkumar, WSJ, "Market Indicators Turn Bullish After Flashing Red Last Year," 10 Feb. 2019 The genesis of Inès Bressand’s eponymous accessories label was swift and organic. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "Inès Bressand Is Crafting the Basket Bags You’ll Be Coveting This Spring," 23 Jan. 2019 Skeptical, Colbert was pleasantly surprised by the acting legend’s swift response. Lauren Sanchez, Vogue, "Meryl Streep Gets Candid Over Cocktails With Stephen Colbert at the Montclair Film Fundraiser," 3 Dec. 2018 Grateful for swift response of @SecretService, @FBI & local law enforcement. Stavros Agorakis, Vox, "“Violence is never OK”: political leaders respond to bomb threats against Obamas, Clintons," 24 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 As a composer and bassist, Linda May Han Oh is always trying to maintain a swift and multidirectional motion without sacrificing clarity or precision. Giovanni Russonello, New York Times, "Live Jazz: 5 April Standouts, From Andrew Cyrille to Linda May Han Oh," 2 May 2018 Buzz: Dynamic skater and puck carrier who makes a swift first pass. Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Red Wings options with sixth overall pick in 2018 NHL draft," 29 Apr. 2018

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

22 Apr 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).


a sum of money that is sent as a payment

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