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

Definition of swindle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to obtain money or property by fraud or deceit

transitive verb

: to take money or property from by fraud or deceit



Definition of swindle (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act or instance of swindling : fraud

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Other Words from swindle


swindler \ ˈswin(d)-​lər How to pronounce swindler (audio) , ˈswin-​dᵊl-​ər \ noun

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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Likewise, delays in distributing prizes due to the pandemic give the scammers both extra time to swindle you out of more money and disappear with your cash. Melissa Ramsey, Houston Chronicle, "BBB on Seniors: Feeling lucky? Watch out for scams," 15 Oct. 2020 Hundreds of thousands of dollars crisscross the globe via MoneyGram, PayPal, and foreign bank accounts in a plot to swindle more than $100 million from the world’s most valuable internet retailer and its customers. Spencer Soper, Bloomberg.com, "How an Amazon Bribery Scheme Became a $100 Million Swindle," 24 Sep. 2020 Crooks are using the coronavirus pandemic as a springboard for all sorts of money-swindling schemes. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "The 5 most common coronavirus scams still circulating," 8 Apr. 2020 McKellen plays Roy, a man who has spent his life swindling others and sets his sights on Mirren’s character, a lonely widow named Betty. Washington Post, "Helen Mirren, Ian McKellen relish roles in ‘The Good Liar’," 14 Nov. 2019 Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story, a feature-length documentary about the former *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys’ manager, reveals his slide into disgrace after swindling the bands and other investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars. Melinda Newman, Billboard, "New Lou Pearlman Documentary Reveals Former *NSYNC, Backstreet Boys Manager's Slide Into Disgrace," 14 Mar. 2019 In the last year alone, Americans were swindled out of $19.7 billion over the phone. Kim Komando, USA TODAY, "10 COVID-19 scams spreading right now that people are falling for," 30 Apr. 2020 All of this comes as James Biden faces a lawsuit in Tennessee in which Michael Frey and his wife, Natalie Frey, accuse him of swindling their idea for turning rural hospitals into one-stop shops for mental and physical health centers. Spencer Neale, Washington Examiner, "Biden brother accused of using political clout to win high-dollar loan from bankrupt healthcare provider," 9 Mar. 2020 Hitesh Madhubhai Patel, 43, of Ahmedabad, India, admitted to operating a call center for years that used fraudulent tactics to swindle up to $65 million from thousands of unsuspecting victims. Jay R. Jordan, Houston Chronicle, "Houston court handcuffs one call center kingpin. How to keep others away from your money.," 21 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But if a few of Trump’s most loyal boosters might fall for that kind of prevarication, there are other signs that the Republicans’ tax swindle hasn’t been convincing to the majority of American workers for some time. J.c. Pan, The New Republic, "Our Plutocratic Tax System Was Built for Rich Cheaters," 28 Sep. 2020 Durand was also charged with three counts of theft by swindle. Paul Walsh, Star Tribune, "Onetime Rockford school chief charged with stealing $42K via a district credit card," 8 Sep. 2020 In 1897, they were arrested for running a swindle on a paper company in Chicago. Paul Brown, Longreads, "How Four Americans Robbed the Bank of England," 10 Aug. 2020 The elements of deception and manipulation in Ms. Floren’s saga sound familiar to those knowledgeable about the rise of online romance swindles. Paula Span, New York Times, "When Romance Is a Scam," 27 Mar. 2020 Note that these swindles are on the milder side of the criminal spectrum, with the perpetrators essentially trying to steal or squeeze money out of you. Andrea Sachs, Twin Cities, "10 common travel scams — and how to avoid them," 10 Aug. 2019 In 2009, disgraced financier Bernard Madoff pleaded guilty in New York to pulling off perhaps the biggest swindle in Wall Street history. BostonGlobe.com, "This day in history," 12 Mar. 2020 While Rafa and Trace swindle yet another Pyke operation out of their spice supply, Ahsoka rigs some thermal detonators to blow on Oba Diah. Alex Kane, USA TODAY, "The Clone Wars recap: Ahsoka says goodbye to the Martez sisters," 10 Apr. 2020 In Caldwell’s telling, the Civil Rights Act, which banned many forms of discrimination, was a swindle. Jonathan Rauch, New York Times, "Did the Civil Rights Movement Go Wrong?," 17 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'swindle.' 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 swindle


1773, in the meaning defined at transitive sense


1778, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for swindle


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

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Learn More about swindle

Time Traveler for swindle

Time Traveler

The first known use of swindle was in 1773

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Statistics for swindle

Last Updated

29 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Swindle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/swindle. Accessed 30 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for swindle


How to pronounce swindle (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of swindle

: to take money or property from (someone) by using lies or tricks


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

Kids Definition of swindle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to get money or property from dishonestly : cheat



Kids Definition of swindle (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act or instance of getting money or property from someone dishonestly

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