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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

Example Sentences

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
Bragg said the defendants swindled NYSIF out of more than $2 million. Aaron Katersky, ABC News, 2 May 2023 Earlier this year, Forbes detailed 25 scams driven by Elon Musk impersonators, which have seen people targeted via social media and swindled out of a plethora of assets. Chloe Taylor, Fortune, 3 Apr. 2023 This narrative had a certain glib cleverness, but, given that Murdaugh had already been exposed as a manipulator accustomed to swindling vulnerable people, glib cleverness was not a helpful note to strike. James Lasdun, The New Yorker, 7 Mar. 2023 O’Loughlin also became convinced that Eaton Vance was swindling him. Longreads, 6 Apr. 2023 Egerton holds it all together as a man who is cheated, swindled, threatened and outmaneuvered. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 27 Mar. 2023 Attorneys and housing advocates say Benter was swindled, while admitting that no laws were likely broken. Rachel Swan, San Francisco Chronicle, 24 Mar. 2023 The new trailer teases the Roy kids’ final battle against Logan (Brian Cox), the family patriarch, who swindling his kids out of stopping the Waystar Royco deal with GoJo in the Season 3 finale. Katie Reul, Variety, 2 Mar. 2023 The voice cast is stellar: Ewan McGregor is the talking cricket (don’t call him Jiminy), Tilda Swinton is the blue fairy, Ron Perlman is the master of the marionette theater, Cate Blanchett as a kindly bird, Christoph Waltz playing both of the animal con men who swindle our young hero. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 5 Jan. 2022
Nitu, of Seattle, Wash., and Irimia, listed as homeless on the jail docket, have each been charged with third-degree larceny and third-degree fraud/swindle. Warren Kulo | Wkulo@al.com, al, 25 Apr. 2023 Tamara Dadyan, who fled to a resort in Montenegro to dodge a sentence of more than 10 years in prison for a pandemic relief swindle, is extradited to the U.S. Support our journalism Subscribe to the Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 28 Feb. 2023 Nearly all the guests at Donwell (including Darcy and his wife, the former Elizabeth Bennet) have had dealings with the unpleasant Wickham; some have fallen prey to his latest swindle, an investment scheme which drained their savings to his sole profit. Tom Nolan, WSJ, 29 Apr. 2022 Adorable puppy picture swindle. Gale Hollandstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 13 Apr. 2022 Wellness is a swindle. Jill Lepore, The New Yorker, 31 Aug. 2020 While on his assignment Kincaid also discovers a land swindle involving the former Carraway Hospital property in North Birmingham. Heather Gann | Hgann@al.com, al, 28 Feb. 2023 Anna Delvey did this momentous swindle, and although she’s been custodially punished, she’s never seemed truly sorry. Raven Smith, Vogue, 15 Oct. 2022 Was the band a needed blast of power-chord candor, or, to borrow the title of the eventual Julien Temple mockumentary about them, a great rock ’n’ roll swindle? James Poniewozik, New York Times, 30 May 2022 See More

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 31 May. 2023.

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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