\ ˈswim How to pronounce swim (audio) \
swam\ ˈswam How to pronounce swam (audio) \; swum\ ˈswəm How to pronounce swum (audio) \; swimming

Definition of swim

 (Entry 1 of 3)

intransitive verb

1a : to propel oneself in water by natural means (such as movements of the limbs, fins, or tail)
b : to play in the water (as at a beach or swimming pool)
2 : to move with a motion like that of swimming : glide a cloud swam slowly across the moon
3a : to float on a liquid : not sink
b : to surmount difficulties : not go under sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish— Daniel Webster
4 : to become immersed in or flooded with or as if with a liquid potatoes swimming in gravy
5 : to have a floating or reeling appearance or sensation

transitive verb

1a : to cross by propelling oneself through water swim a stream
b : to execute in swimming
2 : to cause to swim or float



Definition of swim (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a smooth gliding motion
2 : an act or period of swimming
3 : a temporary dizziness or unconsciousness
4a : an area frequented by fish
b : the main current of activity in the swim



Definition of swim (Entry 3 of 3)

: of, relating to, or used in or for swimming

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Other Words from swim


swimmer noun

Synonyms for swim

Synonyms: Verb

reel, spin, turn, whirl

Synonyms: Noun

blackout, faint, insensibility, knockout, swoon, syncope

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Examples of swim in a Sentence


He's teaching the children to swim. She swam across the pool. He swam the English Channel. The racers must swim the backstroke. We watched the fish swimming in the river. Ducks swam in the pond. I felt weak and my head was swimming. The room swam before my eyes.


the merest glimpse of blood sends him into a swim
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

On that same day, a 60-year-old man drowned while swimming at Mayflower Beach in Dennis. Manoella Macedo, ajc, "Several drownings in same week raise water safety concerns," 9 July 2018 He was injured while swimming with friends at a graduation celebration. John Maffei, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Injured Madison football alum receives grant," 6 July 2018 Here are 7 tips to reduce your chances of getting bit Advertisement The chances of getting bit by a shark while swimming in the ocean are very, very slim. Scott Berson, miamiherald, "She was feeding a shark by hand. Then it bit her finger and pulled.," 2 July 2018 The July Fourth holiday is a perfect time to remind Floridians how to stay safe while swimming this summer. Lisa Cianci, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Tips to stay safe in water on July Fourth and all summer," 28 June 2018 Wheeler wrote in her post: This past Monday, June 11, 2018 at 10 am PST while on summer vacation at the Westin Hotel in Pasadena, California my 5 year old daughter and I were approached by a white man while swimming in the hotel pool. Breanna Edwards, The Root, "'Google the Diseases in Pools': White Man Harasses Black Family, Asks If They Had Showered at California Hotel Pool," 15 June 2018 The deck at The Peanut Farm is the perfect place to kick back and enjoy a beer and a plate of wings while watching ducks swim by and the occasional float-tuber. Anchorage Daily News, "Out-of-town guests? Here’s where to take them to eat around Anchorage.," 31 May 2018 One afternoon, while swimming in a pond, a beaver popped to the surface nearby, then slapped its tail. Dennis Wagner, azcentral, "A refuge and memories go up in smoke as another backcountry paradise burns away," 5 May 2018 Authorities in Hood County say two Granbury High School students drowned while swimming on Monday. Prescotte Stokes Iii, star-telegram, "Two Granbury High School students drown while swimming near Glen Rose | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 30 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In the past, a swim in the pool (along with dinner for 10 in one of the hilltop guesthouses) fetched $60,000. Leena Kim, Town & Country, "Hearst Castle's Iconic Neptune Pool Reopens After a 4-Year Renovation," 14 Nov. 2018 If the goggles in hand invited a swim, the fringed red necklaces—slung over the shoulders or looped diagonally across the body—evoked a Spielberg shark encounter gone awry. Laura Regensdorf, Vogue, "Dripping Wet Hair and No-Makeup Makeup Just Set a New Bar for Clean Beauty at Calvin Klein," 12 Sep. 2018 Offerings include a summer playgroup, martial arts clinic, youth basketball camp, babysitter safety courses, open swim, swim lessons, super Sundays at the pool and a children's entertainment series. Courant Community, "Community News For The Enfield Edition," 10 July 2018 Get your body in motion and take it outdoors – swim, bike, hike, play tennis or golf. Liz Bentley /, NBC News, "Find your greatness this summer," 28 June 2018 The only crashing Romanenko did was at the Seaport Village finish-line tape, winning the 1 kilometer swim, 30K bike and 10K run in 1 hour, 34 minutes, 6 seconds. Don Norcross, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Third time’s a charm for Romanenko at S.D. International Triathlon," 24 June 2018 All of the pools offer swim lessons, have an active swim team and host many activities, including visits from food trucks, social events for children, teens and adults. Christina Hyder, Howard County Times, "Keeping cool at local pools on the hot days of summer [North Laurel/Savage]," 21 June 2018 Adult public swim: $6 for residents, $9 for non-residents. azcentral, "45 Phoenix area splash pads, parks and water features," 14 June 2018 Ocean Games: Annual event held on the shorelines of Ocean City, features three main competitions — a one-mile, three-mile and nine-mile ocean swim and Ultimate Flight Frisbee, a competitive beach Frisbee tournament. 8 a.m.-5 p.m. July 21. baltimoresun.com, "Ocean City 2018 calendar of events," 11 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Just 20 minutes of leisurely swim time burns 158 calories. Marnie Soman, Good Housekeeping, "How to Stay Fit When It's Too Hot to Exercise," 12 Aug. 2013 This will be the second location in the Cincinnati area for the popular swim school franchise that specializes in teaching children ages 4 months to 12-years-old to swim. Sheila Vilvens, Cincinnati.com, "Popular swim school plans to open this fall in Anderson Township," 12 June 2018 Both victims were teammates on Brockport High School's swim team, setting a record at a 2016 meet in the 200-meter freestyle relay. Fox News, "Former teammates found dead in burned car had been shot, authorities say," 13 Sep. 2018 Enroll children who are old enough in swim lessons. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Bode and Morgan Miller Open Up About Their Daughter’s Drowning Accident in New Interview," 30 July 2018 Thursday was Draco and Kyro Alexander’s first official swim lesson. Maria Elena Vizcaino, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Children learn to swim at Aquatica as part of 'World's Largest Swim Lesson'," 21 June 2018 Prizes include bike helmets, summer fun pails, a soccer ball, swim lesson sessions, New Britain Bees tickets and more. Courant Community, "Community News For The Wethersfield Edition," 12 June 2018 And almost all public pools offer swim lessons throughout the season. Helena Oliviero, ajc, "Your guide to some of metro Atlanta’s best public pools," 25 May 2018 Taking mother-daughter dressing to new heights, Ashley and her mom Linda Graham appear alongside one another wearing bikinis, one-pieces, and cover-ups from the swim brand's latest limited-edition capsule with Graham. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Ashley Graham and Her Mom Star in New Swimsuits For All Campaign," 5 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'swim.' 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 swim


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a


1599, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1924, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for swim


Middle English swimmen, from Old English swimman; akin to Old High German swimman to swim

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Statistics for swim

Last Updated

23 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for swim

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

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More Definitions for swim



English Language Learners Definition of swim

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to move through water by moving your arms and legs
: to move through or across (an area of water) by swimming
: to swim by using (a specified method)



English Language Learners Definition of swim (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act or period of swimming


\ ˈswim How to pronounce swim (audio) \
swam\ ˈswam \; swum\ ˈswəm \; swimming

Kids Definition of swim

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to move through or in water by moving arms, legs, fins, or tail
2 : to cross by swimming He swam the river.
3 : to float on or in or be covered with or as if with a liquid The corn was swimming in butter.
4 : to be dizzy : move or seem to move in a dizzying way My head swam in the hot room.

Other Words from swim

swimmer noun



Kids Definition of swim (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act or period of swimming

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More from Merriam-Webster on swim

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with swim

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for swim

Spanish Central: Translation of swim

Nglish: Translation of swim for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of swim for Arabic Speakers

Comments on swim

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


grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

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