\ 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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Synonyms for swim

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of swim in a Sentence

Verb 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. Noun the merest glimpse of blood sends him into a swim
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Cincinnati Enquirer The little blue penguin chicks at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden are learning to swim. Sarah Brookbank, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati Zoo's blue penguins Eclaire, Crepe, Cordon Bleu and Mousse are learning to swim," 5 Feb. 2020 There’s nothing morally wrong with not wanting to swim. Daniel F. Chambliss, WSJ, "Go Ahead, Drop My Course," 2 Feb. 2020 Yancey Ferrell Roper, one of the eight victims of the deadly Scottsboro marina fire, died trying to swim away from the inferno, his family said. Leada Gore | Lgore@al.com, al, "Scottsboro fire victim died swimming from burning dock, family says," 30 Jan. 2020 Residents described a desperate fight for life, with some piling into boats to get away and others diving into water that was in the mid-50s to swim for their lives. Jay Reeves, Anchorage Daily News, "Coroner: 4 of 8 boat dock fire victims were children," 29 Jan. 2020 Since the trip is self-supported, the company says participants must know how to swim, paddle, navigate and self-rescue. Chelsey Lewis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin's Driftless 250 adventure race is back for 2020, with sister trips across the U.S.," 23 Jan. 2020 Read: On 'Burkini Island' Muslim girls can finally learn to swimThis newsletter has been curated and edited by David Beard, with photo selections by Eslah Attar. Keith Laszinski, National Geographic, "What caused Haiti's 2010 quake and Puerto Rico's more recent temblors?," 20 Jan. 2020 At one point, the suit alleges, Epstein and associates organized a search party to catch a 15-year-old victim trying to swim away, and kept her passport to keep her captive. CBS News, "Jeffrey Epstein engaged in decades-long abuse of girls on U.S. Virgin Islands, lawsuit alleges," 15 Jan. 2020 Society members were worried about seeing girls in skimpy bathing suits; their kids would try to swim in jeans, which left behind fibers that taxed the pool’s filtration system. Emma Green, The Atlantic, "The Christian Withdrawal Experiment," 12 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun There were no retakes — a business of sink or swim. Chris Koseluk, The Hollywood Reporter, "Gene Reynolds, Creative Architect Behind 'M*A*S*H' and 'Lou Grant,' Dies at 96," 5 Feb. 2020 Trayden Miles loved to draw, build with Legos and play video games, according to his obituary, while his brother, Kesston, was an adventurer who liked to fish, swim and ride his bike. Leada Gore | Lgore@al.com, al, "Funeral held today for Alabama mother, 5 children killed in boat dock fire," 3 Feb. 2020 The swim roster grew until organizers capped off the number of participants per year for safety. Susan Katz Keating, Washington Examiner, "Swimming for the fallen: Florida frogmen take SEAL fundraiser to waters beyond Tampa," 3 Feb. 2020 Video artist and film director Charles Atlas has a three-and-a-half minute film of an older woman, in a swim cap and heels, dancing nude with what looks like a stout pool float noodle. Darcel Rockett, chicagotribune.com, "Our top 7 art works to see at Expo Chicago 2019," 20 Sep. 2019 The Lady Panthers finished in first place with a total of 230 points while the Panthers finished with 219 points at the District 20-5A meet over the weekend and advanced to the Region III-5A swim meet. Marcus Gutierrez, Houston Chronicle, "Swimming: K-Park boys, girls win District 22-5A title," 24 Jan. 2020 Most styles are available in sizes XS-XL and 14 to 26, while Shade & Shore, one of Target’s most beloved private swim labels, will offer cup and band sizes ranging from 32A to 38DDD. Eliza Huber, refinery29.com, "Breaking: Target Just Launched 1,800 New Swimsuit Styles," 20 Jan. 2020 The swimming trunks' idea came after Cullen completed a charity swim across the English Channel in 2014 at the age of 50. Calum Trenaman, CNN, "Meet the man trying to walk 1,000 miles ... in a pair of swimming trunks," 18 Jan. 2020 At least 1,300 species of water bear swim in Earth’s waters and crawl in its moist soils. Matt Simon, Wired, "Even Ultra-Tough Water Bears May Be Vulnerable to Climate Change," 16 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Just like building a better wetsuit, crafting a better pair of specs or a sleeker pair of swim goggles takes hours of research, hoards of cash and endless prototyping. John D. Stoll, WSJ, "Can Design Thinking Save Business?," 31 Jan. 2020 The parents also provide information about swimming education program Infant Swimming Resource’s Self-Rescue (ISR), where Easton learns swim necessities such floating with the help of a swim instructor. Ashley Boucher, PEOPLE.com, "Bode Miller Reveals He Was Forced to Deliver His Twins After Wife's Unexpectedly Quick Home Birth," 12 Nov. 2019 The real problem is going to be when the bacon grease goes cold and hardens in those swim trunks. Kat Bein, Billboard, "The Year in Diplo Photos," 30 Dec. 2019 The lawsuit was filed last week in Buffalo district court by current swim team member Nastassja Posso, former swimmer Jaime Rolf and a former diver listed as Jane Doe. John Wawrow, San Diego Union-Tribune, "3 Niagara swimmers allege sexual harassment in lawsuit," 26 Sep. 2019 The swim coach of Dimond High School in the Anchorage School District plans to appeal the ruling that was made Friday against 17-year-old Breckynn Willis during a dual meet against Chugiak High School, NBC affiliate KTUU reported. David K. Li, NBC News, "Female swimmer is disqualified over her bathing suit. Critics cite body shaming," 10 Sep. 2019 The Pompano Piranhas swim club hosted the event that attracted 21 swim organizations and over 600 swimmers. Emmett Hall, sun-sentinel.com, "Jesse Vassallo Invitational attracts swimming enthusiasts," 12 June 2019 The Hinsdale graduate, who has committed to the matching $750,000 donation and won multiple state championships on Central’s swim team, wants to remain anonymous, Allegra said. Kimberly Fornek, chicagotribune.com, "Alumni may help pay for larger pool at Hinsdale Central," 27 Sep. 2019 At the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics, Lochte initially said he and three other members of the United States swim team were robbed at gunpoint at a Shell gas station while returning to the Olympic Village. Eric Todisco, PEOPLE.com, "Ryan Lochte Tears Up as He Says 2016 Rio Olympics Incident 'Changed My Entire Life'," 11 Nov. 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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Time Traveler for swim

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for swim

Last Updated

9 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Swim.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/swim. Accessed 20 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for swim


How to pronounce swim (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for swim

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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