\ 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

The return of great white sharks, due in large part to conservation efforts, is prompting scientists to focus on ways humans and sharks can better live—if not swim—side by side. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "Beachgoers in the US have real-life Jaws to fear," 2 June 2019 The Colorado River runs gently here, 3 feet at its deepest, so cross it by wading, not swimming. Jillian Kay Melchior, WSJ, "Yuma’s Humanitarian Emergency," 9 May 2019 In the past, TV and movie writers have struggled with how to use a superhero who swims pretty well and can talk to fish. Noel Murray, The Verge, "This weekend, stream a different version of Aquaman from home," 21 Dec. 2018 But in Ischia, the Sarratores seem as idyllic as the island itself, a happy family that goes swimming together and drinks on the terrace and showers Elena with praise and affection. Constance Grady, Vox, "My Brilliant Friend offers Elena an escape — then yanks it away," 9 Dec. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Competitive swimmers are in the midst of the long-course swim season and with plenty of meets to choose from the Jesse Vassallo Invitational remains the popular choice. Emmett Hall, sun-sentinel.com, "Jesse Vassallo Invitational attracts swimming enthusiasts," 12 June 2019 The swim club was built along with the neighborhood when farmland was converted into residential development. Melissa Whatley, baltimoresun.com, "Dulaney High seniors reconnect with their alma mater: Pot Spring Elementary in Timonium," 12 June 2019 The swim camp kicked off a series of month-long themed camps. Essence, "LeBron James’ School Collaborates With Olympian Simone Manuel To Teach Youth How To Swim," 11 June 2019 People should point their feet down river in fast water and as soon as possible swim to shore. Longmont Times-call, The Denver Post, "Officials warn some Colorado waterways running high," 8 June 2019 Next summer, a swim club is projected to open atop an adjacent building; according to current renderings, there will be covered and terraced cabanas, a 75-foot lap pool, a children’s pool, and recreation space. Betsy Blumenthal, Condé Nast Traveler, "Philadelphia is Taking on Soho House With the Fitler Club," 5 June 2019 The pools offer open swim and lap swim hours, as well as swimming lessons, water exercise, lifeguard trainings and more. oregonlive.com, "Portland public outdoor pools set to open June 18," 3 June 2019 Along with a red lifeguard swimsuit, there are matching red swim shorts, sunglasses, a tank with the lifeguard logo, and an official lifeguard visor. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "H&M Plans to Debut a “Stranger Things” Capsule Collection," 9 May 2019 Book the wraparound swim-up suite that takes lounging to new levels. Marissa Miller, Teen Vogue, "13 Dream Vacations to Add to Your Bucket List," 24 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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 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

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

15 Jun 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).


to take the place or position of

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