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swin·​dle ˈswin-dᵊl How to pronounce swindle (audio)
swindled; swindling ˈswin(d)-liŋ How to pronounce swindle (audio)

intransitive verb

: to obtain money or property by fraud or deceit

transitive verb

: to take money or property from by fraud or deceit
ˈswin(d)-lər How to pronounce swindle (audio)


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: an act or instance of swindling : fraud
Choose the Right Synonym for swindle

cheat, cozen, defraud, swindle mean to get something by dishonesty or deception.

cheat suggests using trickery that escapes observation.

cheated me out of a dollar

cozen implies artful persuading or flattering to attain a thing or a purpose.

always able to cozen her grandfather out of a few dollars

defraud stresses depriving one of his or her rights and usually connotes deliberate perversion of the truth.

defrauded of her inheritance by an unscrupulous lawyer

swindle implies large-scale cheating by misrepresentation or abuse of confidence.

swindled of their savings by con artists

Examples of swindle in a Sentence

Verb hundreds of people were swindled out of their savings, and all they had to show for it were fake land deeds Noun a swindle that involved selling a lot of land that really didn't exist identity theft has become one of the most frequent and feared swindles of our time
Recent Examples on the Web
Magnolia’s Thelma, starring June Squib as a 93-year-grandmother who is swindled, expanded into 1,220 locations, grossing $1.3 million for a U.S. cume of $5.1 million. Pamela McClintock, The Hollywood Reporter, 30 June 2024 Lustig would go on to swindle legendary gangster Al Capone and build a million-dollar counterfeiting business before Secret Service agents hauled him in for good for sending tens of thousands of fake $100 bills into the economy. thehustle.co, 1 Mar. 2024
While the town may not be big enough for the both of ‘em, each agrees to attempt a $50,000 swindle on a bet, with the loser heading out of town on a one-way ticket. David John Chávez, The Mercury News, 14 June 2024 But in essence, Vice has been a swindle, and investors are starting to see the light: Disney, which sank $400 million into Vice in 2015, has in the past year written down nearly all of its investment. Jacob Weisberg, Foreign Affairs, 12 Aug. 2019 See all Example Sentences for swindle 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'swindle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



back-formation from swindler, from German Schwindler giddy person, from schwindeln to be dizzy, from Old High German swintilōn, frequentative of swintan to diminish, vanish; akin to Old English swindan to vanish

First Known Use


1773, in the meaning defined at transitive sense


1778, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of swindle was in 1773

Dictionary Entries Near swindle

Cite this Entry

“Swindle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/swindle. Accessed 12 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
swin·​dle ˈswin-dᵊl How to pronounce swindle (audio)
swindled; swindling -(d)liŋ How to pronounce swindle (audio)
: to get money or property from by dishonest means : cheat
-(d)lər How to pronounce swindle (audio)


2 of 2 noun
: an act or instance of swindling : fraud

More from Merriam-Webster on swindle

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