Synonyms & Antonyms of swell

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 of the very best kind
  • what a swell time we had at the country club dance

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Synonyms & Antonyms of swell (Entry 2 of 3)

1 to become greater in extent, volume, amount, or number
  • the club membership has really swelled in recent months

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3 to extend outward beyond a usual point
  • at that point the Congo River swells and forms Malebo Pool

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Synonyms & Antonyms of swell (Entry 3 of 3)

1 a part that sticks out from the general mass of something
  • the graceful swell of the bottle was meant to be evocative of the female figure

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2 a moving ridge on the surface of water
  • huge swells overwhelmed the tiny craft

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See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About swell

How does the verb swell differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of swell are amplify, dilate, distend, expand, and inflate. While all these words mean "to increase in size or volume," swell implies gradual expansion beyond a thing's original or normal limits.

the bureaucracy swelled to unmanageable proportions

In what contexts can amplify take the place of swell?

The synonyms amplify and swell are sometimes interchangeable, but amplify implies the extension or enlargement of something inadequate.

amplify the statement with details

When might dilate be a better fit than swell?

While the synonyms dilate and swell are close in meaning, dilate applies especially to expansion of circumference.

dilated pupils

When could distend be used to replace swell?

The words distend and swell are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, distend implies outward extension caused by pressure from within.

a distended abdomen

When would expand be a good substitute for swell?

Although the words expand and swell have much in common, expand may apply regardless of the manner of increase (such as growth, unfolding, addition of parts).

a business that expands every year

When is it sensible to use inflate instead of swell?

While in some cases nearly identical to swell, inflate implies expanding by introduction of air or something insubstantial and suggests a vulnerability to sudden collapse.

an inflated ego

Learn More About swell

Time Traveler for swell

Time Traveler

The first known use of swell was before the 12th century

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Thesaurus Entries Near swell

sweet tooth



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Cite this Entry

“Swell.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on swell

Nglish: Translation of swell for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of swell for Arabic Speakers


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