\ 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

Delaware River shad fishermen would yank up their nets as thousands of sturgeons swam toward spawning grounds. Ben Finley, Washington Post, "Sturgeon, America’s forgotten dinosaurs, show signs of life," 10 July 2019 In a video shared by the police department on Twitter, three or four dolphins can be seen swimming to the surface briefly before going back underwater. Cody Boteler, baltimoresun.com, "Dolphins were spotted near Essex by Baltimore County police," 8 July 2019 Lifeguards watched over the pool, serving as an example of the careful monitoring Stew and Kim Leonard said is important to help prevent accidental drownings — especially during the summer months when more people are swimming. Lydia Gerike, courant.com, "‘A critical time of the year’: Stew and Kim Leonard remind adults to be vigilant, prevent accidental drownings," 5 July 2019 Beachgoers in Daytona Beach, Florida, had some nautical guests in shallow waters as aerial footage captures several sharks swimming close by. Wesli Jones, CNN, "Must-watch videos of the week," 5 July 2019 In contrast to dinoflagellates, which swim to access nutrients and light, diatoms float in the ocean and if nutrients abound, the algae bloom. Jenny Howard, National Geographic, "Red tides, explained," 5 July 2019 Credit where credit is due: Evolution has invented a galaxy of clever adaptations, from fish that swim up sea cucumber butts and eat their gonads, to parasites that mind-control their hosts in wildly complex ways. Matt Simon, WIRED, "An Itty-Bitty Robot That Lifts Off Like a Sci-Fi Spaceship," 4 July 2019 An 8-year-old boy was bitten while swimming off Bald Head Island. Kalhan Rosenblatt, NBC News, "Shark attacks aren't on the rise. But here's how to stay safe this Fourth of July.," 4 July 2019 Clark County Public Health officials still recommend that Fourth of July visitors still not swim or water ski in parts of the lake that have visible scum and that no one drink the water at all. oregonlive.com, "Public health alert for Vancouver Lake downgraded in time for July 4th," 3 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Brittaney Wyszynski, the 32-year-old puppeteer, started earlier and was the first woman to cross the finish line in the 1,000-meter swim, 30-kilometer bike and 10K run, finishing in 1:47:51. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Toland, Jones win San Diego International Triathlon," 24 June 2019 All tickets will be refunded for City Splash and the mile swim, the organizations said. Breanne Kovatch, BostonGlobe.com, "Charles River swimming events slated for Saturday canceled for entire summer," 21 June 2019 Charles Van Der Horst, 67, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was last seen while participating in the 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim, which organizers say is the longest marathon swim in the world. Ben Kesslen, NBC News, "Body of AIDS researcher who went missing during Hudson River swim race recovered," 20 June 2019 Or just go with the flow and ride out the rip current, saving your energy for the swim back to shore. Elinor Aspegren, USA TODAY, "A rip current at the beach can be deadly, but experts say you can escape by doing this," 19 June 2019 During the 15-minute swim, salt water stung the eyes and dried the mouths of Braz and Öhrman. Nina Strochlic, National Geographic, "How a photographer captured this bizarre salt island in the Dead Sea," 17 June 2019 The New York Police Department is continuing search efforts in the Hudson River and the Stage 7 swim scheduled for tomorrow has been canceled. Matt Mcnulty, PEOPLE.com, "Marathon Swimmer, 67, Presumed Dead After He Goes Missing During Competition, Search Called Off," 15 June 2019 In celebration of the swim and eyewear line’s decade of existence, Laub enlisted her longtime friend to mine the label’s archive and resurrect the bikinis that best reflect her effortless day-to-night style. Vogue, "The Sustainable Denim Swimwear Collection That Might Just Last Forever," 6 June 2019 Time to bring out your swim trunks, sunglasses and colored pencils! Dara Elasfar, Washington Post, "Summer is no bummer when there’s sun. Show KidsPost what that looks like.," 11 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Each year, the Clarendon Hills Park District offers a free 30-minute swim lessons at Lions Pool, as part of the world’s largest swimming lesson, an event intended to reduce drownings by teaching more people to swim. Kimberly Fornek, chicagotribune.com, "Plenty of room in area pools when weather is cool and rainy," 25 June 2019 Remain calm and swim parallel to the shoreline, which is perpendicular to the current. Elinor Aspegren, USA TODAY, "A rip current at the beach can be deadly, but experts say you can escape by doing this," 19 June 2019 The risk of drowning can be reduced significantly if children take swim lessons by age 4, and lessons are now recommended for children starting at age 1, according to new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics released in March. Doreen Christensen, sun-sentinel.com, "Free swim lessons for kids in South Florida," 17 June 2019 Café Hope hosts a weekly happy hour on Fridays at 5:30 p.m., the pool has summer memberships available and our swim team has been practicing for a few weeks. Helen Williams, nola.com, "Timberlane commission stays busy to protect future of country club," 14 June 2019 Parents said Stranahan High had no swimming pool for four years and had to temporarily bench its swim team. Brittany Wallman, sun-sentinel.com, "Public schools get failing grades in new survey by Fort Lauderdale residents," 8 June 2019 According to prosecutors, the relationship began when Green, a Blue Springs South High School teacher and a swim coach at the time, gave the student a ride home. Luke Nozicka, kansascity, "Former swim coach in Kansas City area schools is sentenced, sex crimes go back years," 4 June 2019 Athlete Mirinda Carfrae wears swim cap, goggles, and trisuit all by TYR, similar styles at tyr.com. SELF, "Core and Upper Body Strength Push," 28 Apr. 2019 Plus, there was concern that parents would become less vigilant about supervising a child who had taken swim lessons. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, "This Is the Age Your Kids Should Start Swimming Lessons," 3 Apr. 2019

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

13 Jul 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

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