\ ˈswim How to pronounce swim (audio) \
swam\ ˈswam How to pronounce swim (audio) \; swum\ ˈswəm How to pronounce swim (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 Bees cannot swim and the rocks provide a place to rest while accessing the water. Jodi Bay, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Garden Mastery: Plant for the pollinators, which keep our world buzzing with life," 13 Mar. 2021 The man, later identified as Orville Lyons, was wearing a life jacket but couldn’t swim. Bill Heavey, Field & Stream, "Florida Fishing Captain Rescues Man Stranded at Sea for 36 Hours," 24 Feb. 2021 Meantime, civilians and critics, date-night viewers and arts journalists alike swim against the tide of endless streaming options. Michael Phillips, chicagotribune.com, "Chicago’s tallest movie screen is likely gone for good. Here’s what’s left (plenty, actually) for filmgoers who’d rather go big than stay home," 12 Apr. 2021 Off Rangiroa Atoll, in the Tuamotu Islands, scuba divers and dolphins can swim together in the Tiputa Pass. Johanna Read, Forbes, "The Islands Of Tahiti Are Reopening On May 1, 2021," 9 Apr. 2021 Qualifiers in wave 2 in any event may swim in wave 2 in all events. David Woods, The Indianapolis Star, "Lilly King joined in swim world rankings by Fishers soph JoJo Ramey," 30 Mar. 2021 The dolphins usually swim in pods of 100 and take great care to stay far away from coastlines, leading researchers to believe this duo may have gotten lost while searching for food. Meena Thiruvengadam, Travel + Leisure, "Striped Dolphins Swim Through Venice's Grand Canal — See the Video," 24 Mar. 2021 Green sea turtles, Antarctic fur seals, tiger sharks, humpback whales and various other marine animals occasionally swim in perplexing circles. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, "Researchers Are Investigating Why Marine Animals Swim in Perplexing Circles," 22 Mar. 2021 His ex-wife, Rabab Diab, could not swim but survived when a nearby fisherman threw her a life preserver. Amir Vera And Christina Carrega, CNN, "California man sentenced for drowning his two sons in 'diabolical' insurance scheme, prosecutors say," 11 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In 2018, her synchronized swim team won top honors at the Gay Games in Paris. Rohan Preston, Star Tribune, "Pillsbury House Theatre taps longtime member Signe Harriday as new leader," 27 Apr. 2021 Clark decided to join the swim team to improve his speed for water polo. Steve Sadin, chicagotribune.com, "Three-sport athletes are common. Perhaps you’ve heard about a kid in four sports this school year. Libertyville’s Andrew Clark outdoes them all.," 12 Apr. 2021 December, 2020: Chase coaches Indian Creek's swim team for the season with his dad. Dana Hunsinger Benbow, The Indianapolis Star, "Chase and Sadie's incredible journey of love amid cancer," 4 Apr. 2021 In high school, some girls on my swim team said I was born in a rice basket. BostonGlobe.com, "For young Asian Americans like me, the rise in hate crimes reinforces a lifetime of racial trauma," 30 Mar. 2021 All of the Tigers who competed were on the swim team. Giana Han, al, "Weekly Auburn roundup: Excellence continues on the track," 22 Mar. 2021 The Pennsylvania Ballet and Drexel University swim team were among her clients. Washington Post, "Coronavirus: What you need to read," 6 Mar. 2021 Dog day: North Olmsted residents are invited to bring their dogs to enjoy a day in the North Olmsted Recreation Center pool as the outdoor swim season ends. Carol Kovach, cleveland, "It’s official -- No Taste of Lakewood this year: A Place in the Sun," 15 Sep. 2020 In previous years, the tail end of the summer swim season has also brought beach closures as a result of blue-green algae blooms. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Infected minks, airport layoffs, crawfish farmers: News from around our 50 states," 18 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective But behind-the-scenes, Grandma’s cop-worthy post-swim lewk resulted from a practical request from the 85-year-old lead Tsai Chin, who is an accomplished — and very glamorous IRL — stage and screen legend on both sides of the pond and mainland China. Fawnia Soo Hoo, refinery29.com, "From Chinatown Pretty To Nora From Queens, Chinese Grandmas Are 2020’s Fashion Icons," 2 Dec. 2020 Facial coverings are required at all times, except while swimming or during the pre-swim shower. Lisa J. Huriash, sun-sentinel.com, "New reopening rules and more: Your guide to the latest coronavirus laws across South Florida," 8 Sep. 2020 Katie Ledecky enjoys her post-swim refreshments while still in the water. Lindsay Kimble, PEOPLE.com, "Katie Ledecky Swims Lap with Glass of Chocolate Milk on Her Head — Without Spilling It," 3 Aug. 2020 This morning, Reebok announced its latest footwear launch with Chromat, which made its runway debut during the swim brand’s Spring 2020 New York Fashion Week show. Eliza Huber, refinery29.com, "The New Chromat x Reebok Collab Comes With A Post-Apocalyptic CGI Campaign," 15 May 2020 Above, swim practice in Mission Viejo, Calif., this week. Remy Tumin, New York Times, "Reopening Guidelines, Michael Flynn, Yeast: Your Thursday Evening Briefing," 7 May 2020 At Lawrence North: North Central won all 11 swim events for 555 points and a 13th straight title. David Woods, Indianapolis Star, "Carmel girls hit near-perfect sectional score, stay in lane for another swim title," 9 Feb. 2020 Now, their last year of middle school has been cut short and any celebratory activities for her boys — like eighth grade night for their swim team, Evan's final choir concert and Holden's science team competition— are either cancelled or postponed. Sorell Grow, Indianapolis Star, "How fifth, eighth graders are preparing to leave elementary, middle school away from peers," 21 Apr. 2020 Immigration attorneys have sported swim goggles and masks borrowed from friends to meet with clients in detention centers. Fortune, "Close immigration courts? Lawyers and judges push to stop in-person hearings amid coronavirus spread," 26 Mar. 2020

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

30 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Swim.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/swim. Accessed 8 May. 2021.

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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for swim

Nglish: Translation of swim for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of swim for Arabic Speakers

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