\ 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

Synonyms for swim

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Although considerably easier than swimming the Yangtze, Strel's next pursuit is to swim Dubai's Water Canal. Megan Alldridge, CNN, 10 Dec. 2021 Again the seal’s task was to swim toward the star and touch the point on the rim directly beneath it. New York Times, 29 July 2021 There is an indoor pool, but given the weather is warm to swim most of the year outdoors, some may prefer a heated outdoor pool for out of season visits. Michele Robson, Forbes, 24 June 2021 Carmel’s Jacob Mitchell was to swim a time trial in the 400 freestyle at the end of Tuesday night’s session. David Woods, The Indianapolis Star, 16 June 2021 The country artist says one of his daughters' favorite activities is to swim outside in their pool. Georgia Slater, PEOPLE.com, 4 June 2021 The area will also have a retail store, fitness center, pickleball courts, game room, kids' club, dog park, a 5 o'Clock Somewhere swim-up bar, and of course, a Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant. Rachel Chang, Travel + Leisure, 18 Apr. 2022 His children learned to swim in the facility’s pool. Carrie Napoleon, chicagotribune.com, 7 Apr. 2022 Plants surround the adults-only natural Zen Oasis pool with a swim-up bar, and the El Limon Bar, with fresh fruit and veggie cocktails, mocktails, juices and smoothies, is a major draw. Brittney Oliver, Essence, 23 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Sunday spotlighted a swim coach who trains migrants how to navigate the Rio Grande and cross the U.S. border. Jack Durschlag, Fox News, 20 Apr. 2022 Murray is a longtime swim coach in Anchorage, including coaching at South High School. Emily Goodykoontz, Anchorage Daily News, 29 Jan. 2022 Hailing from Sydney's Northern Beaches, the swim coach and personal trainer loves some adventure. Alicia Vrajlal, refinery29.com, 19 Jan. 2022 The video opens with a two-minute monologue delivered by the Ted Lasso star who — unlike his lovable soccer manager — plays a demanding swim coach. Emily Zemler, Rolling Stone, 16 Dec. 2021 First, the context: In the 1930s, University of Iowa swim coach David Armbruster was working tirelessly with his swimmers to improve their breaststroke speed. Edward Wasserman, The Conversation, 8 Nov. 2021 Acton-Boxborough girls’ swim coach Gretchen Turner is in a predicament. BostonGlobe.com, 3 Nov. 2021 As a high school freshman, I got tricked by the swim coach to join the team. Jessica Pliska, Forbes, 26 Oct. 2021 Longtime Sharks coach and local legend George Kennedy is former head swim coach at Johns Hopkins University and current assistant coach at Loyola University. baltimoresun.com, 22 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Costume designer Dinah Collin won an Emmy for her work on the BBC series, which has since inspired a generation of Regency adaptations—not to mention the string of winks to the transformative post-swim moment. Emma Fraser, Town & Country, 10 Apr. 2022 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, 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, 8 Sep. 2020 Katie Ledecky enjoys her post-swim refreshments while still in the water. Lindsay Kimble, PEOPLE.com, 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, 15 May 2020 Above, swim practice in Mission Viejo, Calif., this week. Remy Tumin, New York Times, 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, 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, 21 Apr. 2020 See More

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.

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

Learn More About swim

Time Traveler for swim

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near swim

swill milk


swim bladder

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for swim

Last Updated

24 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Swim.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/swim. Accessed 27 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for swim


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on swim

Nglish: Translation of swim for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of swim for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!