\ 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

Male sharks moved up and down the water in what was described as a V-shape, and swam in the formation up to 140 times a day. Edmund Demarche, Fox News, "Scientists find great white shark lair in Pacific Ocean: report," 18 Sep. 2018 Ballast — the company behind VRSlide — is viewing this as the first step toward a larger kind of aquatic VR setup, one that would see full, impressive tanks that users could swim in while in virtual reality. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "Ready or not, the world’s first VR water slide is here," 17 July 2018 In the meantime, rescue divers are teaching the boys how to swim and dive in order to aid in their own exfiltration. Jayme Deerwester, USA TODAY, "Twitter tears into Diplo over tasteless tweet about trapped Thai soccer team," 5 July 2018 The result is a team already swimming in prospects despite not having a selection in either round Thursday night. Ira Winderman, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Heat add undrafted prospects, fill out summer-league roster," 22 June 2018 Itineraries were delivered months in advance in red leather dossiers, and the schedule, as Deeda Blair recalls, was unforgiving, with time slots for swimming precisely indicated. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, "Hamish Bowles Remembers Jayne Wrightsman, Esteemed Arts Connoisseur and Legendary Hostess," 24 Apr. 2019 Yet the lyrics feel deeper than that—how fish are powerful in their plainness and able to swim underwater, where a person in a boat would be caught in the undertow. Vogue, "Meet Alyona Alyona, Ukraine’s Most Unlikely Rap Star," 11 Apr. 2019 According to new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), babies can begin swimming lessons at one year old. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, "This Is the Age Your Kids Should Start Swimming Lessons," 3 Apr. 2019 Less than an hour before Nielsen’s arrival a man tried to swim into the U.S. but was quickly detained by border patrol agents. Julie Watson, The Seattle Times, "Caravan migrants weigh options after court blocks Trump ban," 20 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Saturday morning, many started their day with a swim, Elettra Rossellini Wiedemann opted for a bike ride around the property, and some just slept in. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, "To Celebrate Their New Resort Line, Camilla Stærk and Helena Christensen Host a Rum-Soaked and Sun-Dappled Weekend in Puerto Rico," 18 Apr. 2019 Previously, the organization had advised against swim lessons for kids under the age of 4. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, "This Is the Age Your Kids Should Start Swimming Lessons," 3 Apr. 2019 Participants start with a 1.2-mile swim in Jordan Lake, then bike 56 miles through rural Chatham and Wake Counties before entering a 13.1-mile run course in downtown Raleigh, reports WRAL. Mark Price, charlotteobserver, "Hackers use highway signs to insult bicyclists along NC Ironman race route," 29 May 2018 Think of at is a fashionable, exercise-free version of the polar swim. Hadley Mendelsohn, House Beautiful, "The $225 Outdoor Shower Designers Are Obsessed With," 26 Apr. 2019 The pieces look similar to styles found in Ratajkowski’s own swim and body line, Inamorata. Vogue, "Surprising No One, Emily Ratajkowski Would Make a Very Glam Aerobics Instructor," 24 Apr. 2019 Today, the lounge, swim, and lifestyle brand released a collection of feminine, floral one-pieces in partnership with Every Mother Counts, the charity founded by supermodel Christy Turlington-Burns. Kerry Pieri, Harper's BAZAAR, "Onia Gets in the Mommy and Me Swim Game with Christy Turlington-Burns," 16 Apr. 2019 Being an expedition for the digital age, the Longest Swim has a Twitter handle (@thelongestswim), a small raft of YouTube videos, a Facebook page about the beginning of the swim and a documentary film crew, from Nomadica Films, in tow. NBC News, "Man begins to swim across Pacific Ocean, garbage patch and all," 5 June 2018 However, Kate has been seen driving to the palace, reportedly for a swim, in the past. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Regularly Uses the Pool at Buckingham Palace," 14 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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 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

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

18 May 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).


a sum of money that is sent as a payment

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