\ ˈswēp How to pronounce sweep (audio) \
swept\ ˈswept How to pronounce sweep (audio) \; sweeping

Definition of sweep

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to remove from a surface with or as if with a broom or brush swept the crumbs from the table
b : to destroy completely : wipe out usually used with away everything she cherished, might be swept away overnight— Louis Bromfield
c : to remove or take with a single continuous forceful action swept the books off the desk
d : to remove from sight or consideration the problem can't be swept under the rug
e : to drive or carry along with irresistible force a wave of protest that swept the opposition into office
2a : to clean with or as if with a broom or brush
b : to clear by repeated and forcible action
c : to move across or along swiftly, violently, or overwhelmingly fire swept the business districtAmer. Guide Series: Md.
d : to win an overwhelming victory in or on sweep the elections
e : to win all the games or contests of sweep a double-header sweep a series
3 : to touch in passing with a swift continuous movement
4 : to trace or describe the locus or extent of (something, such as a line, circle, or angle)
5 : to cover the entire range of his eyes swept the horizon

intransitive verb

1a : to clean a surface with or as if with a broom
b : to move swiftly, forcefully, or devastatingly the wind swept through the treetops
2 : to go with stately or sweeping movements proudly swept into the room
3 : to move or extend in a wide curve or range
sweep one off one's feet
: to gain immediate and unquestioning support, approval, or acceptance by a person
sweep the board or sweep the table
1 : to win all the bets on the table
2 : to win everything : beat all competitors



Definition of sweep (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something that sweeps or works with a sweeping motion: such as
a : a long pole or timber pivoted on a tall post and used to raise and lower a bucket in a well
b : a triangular cultivator blade that cuts off weeds under the soil surface
c : a windmill sail
2a : an instance of sweeping especially : a clearing out or away with or as if with a broom
b : the removal from the table in one play in casino of all the cards by pairing or combining
c : an overwhelming victory
d : a winning of all the contests or prizes in a competition
e : a wide-ranging search of an area (as by police)
3a : a movement of great range and force
b : a curving or circular course or line
c : the compass of a sweeping movement : scope
d : a broad unbroken area or extent a sweep of wildflowers
e : an end run in football in which one or more linemen pull back and run interference for the ballcarrier
6 : obliquity with respect to a reference line sweep of an airplane wing especially : sweepback
7 sweeps plural : a television ratings period during which surveys are taken to determine advertising rates

Illustration of sweep

Illustration of sweep


sweep 1a

In the meaning defined above

Synonyms & Antonyms for sweep

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for sweep


range, gamut, compass, sweep, scope, orbit mean the extent that lies within the powers of something (as to cover or control). range is a general term indicating the extent of one's perception or the extent of powers, capacities, or possibilities. the entire range of human experience gamut suggests a graduated series running from one possible extreme to another. a performance that ran the gamut of emotions compass implies a sometimes limited extent of perception, knowledge, or activity. your concerns lie beyond the narrow compass of this study sweep suggests extent, often circular or arc-shaped, of motion or activity. the book covers the entire sweep of criminal activity scope is applicable to an area of activity, predetermined and limited, but somewhat flexible. as time went on, the scope of the investigation widened orbit suggests an often circumscribed range of activity or influence within which forces work toward accommodation. within that restricted orbit they tried to effect social change

Examples of sweep in a Sentence

Verb He swept the dirt off the driveway. He swept the crumbs from the table. I need to sweep the kitchen. Are you finished sweeping the porch? A storm swept across the plains. Fires swept through the forest. She proudly swept into the room. The limo swept up to the door. He swept the curtains aside. She swept the books off the desk. Noun Mrs. Griswold has been a teacher for so long that the sweep of her influence extends across three generations of the townspeople.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb If Pittsburgh can sweep Baltimore, and two-win Jacksonville — the NFL’s worst team — can beat Indianapolis, the Steelers will reach the playoffs for a second straight season. Tim Bielik, cleveland, 9 Jan. 2022 Millions are expected to leave home — even as the Omicron and Delta variants sweep the nation and threaten to stall progress against the pandemic. Shannon Larson, BostonGlobe.com, 18 Dec. 2021 Put simply, investors are saying that Tesla will sweep the field and leave others to fight over the scraps. Shawn Tully, Fortune, 30 Nov. 2021 Vacuum or sweep any noticeable crumbs on the floor, and wipe down the counters with a damp microfiber cloth or cleaning wipe. Jessica Bennett, Better Homes & Gardens, 22 Nov. 2021 As Burns jumped up to chase the football, Jones grabbed the defensive end by the right leg and, while still on the turf, swung one of his legs around to sweep Burns off his left foot and onto the ground. Mark Inabinett | Minabinett@al.com, al, 10 Nov. 2021 The Wolves lost to Space Coast 3-2 in their second match of the day but bounced back to sweep three games against Celebration and stay alive. Buddy Collings, orlandosentinel.com, 3 Nov. 2021 If the Astros force a Game 7, Wednesday's forecast calls for a cold front to sweep through Houston in the afternoon and bring with it as much as two inches of rain, which would keep the roof closed. Matt Young, Chron, 2 Nov. 2021 The Roborock S7 has helped me tremendously by eliminating the constant need to sweep and mop. Joy Gohring, Variety, 25 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun That success is attributed by reviewers to the series’ period flare, sumptuous sets, sweeping score and geographic sweep, as well as its central story of a woman’s rebellion against the mores of her time and empowerment. John Hopewell, Variety, 12 Jan. 2022 Good rebound win for Miami, though, to secure back-to-back winning seasons and a sweep of the Patriots, both positives for the organization heading into the offseason. Kenny Rosarion, sun-sentinel.com, 9 Jan. 2022 Donovan Mitchell scores 36 points but can’t stop Indiana from completing a season sweep against Utah. The Salt Lake Tribune, 8 Jan. 2022 The 36mm watch offers date, sweep seconds, hours, minutes, and 42 hours of power reserve. Roberta Naas, Forbes, 5 Jan. 2022 Gavin Williams ran for 98 yards on 16 carries, while Arlen Bruce IV gave Iowa its first touchdown of the day on a 20-yard sweep with 3:21 left in the third quarter. John Denton, ajc, 1 Jan. 2022 The Vikings beat the Packers in Minnesota in November, so a sweep would be something. Los Angeles Times, 30 Dec. 2021 South Alabama managed its excellent non-conference showing — which included a 7-0 record at home and a sweep of the Las Vegas Classic during Thanksgiving weekend — behind outstanding debuts from Manning and fellow SEC transfer Jay Jay Chandler. Creg Stephenson | Cstephenson@al.com, al, 29 Dec. 2021 The streamer's Emmy-winning sports docuseries will return with new episodes two full years after its debut, after a turbulent 24 months that saw a pandemic sweep the globe and one of the series' stars indicted on child pornography charges. Tyler Aquilina, EW.com, 28 Dec. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sweep.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of sweep


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for sweep


Middle English swepen; akin to Old English swāpan to sweep, Old High German sweifen to wander

Buying Guide

Our team at The Usage has selected the best floor cleaners.

Learn More About sweep

Time Traveler for sweep

Time Traveler

The first known use of sweep was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near sweep

Sweeney layout



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for sweep

Last Updated

14 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Sweep.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sweep. Accessed 20 Jan. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for sweep



English Language Learners Definition of sweep

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to remove (something, such as dust or dirt) from a surface with a broom or brush or with a quick movement of your hand, fingers, etc.
: to remove dust, dirt, etc., from (something) with a broom or brush
: to move or pass quickly, forcefully, or smoothly



English Language Learners Definition of sweep (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act of cleaning an area with a broom or brush
: a long, smooth movement often in a wide curve
: a large area of land often forming a wide curve


\ ˈswēp How to pronounce sweep (audio) \
swept\ ˈswept \; sweeping

Kids Definition of sweep

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to remove with a broom or brush Please sweep up the dirt.
2 : to clean by removing loose dirt or small trash with a broom or brush I need to sweep the floor.
3 : to move over or across swiftly often with force or destruction Fire swept the village.
4 : to move or gather as if with a broom or brush I swept the money from the table.
5 : to move the eyes or an instrument through a wide curve They swept the hill for some sign of the enemy.
6 : to touch a surface of quickly The musician's fingers swept the piano keys.
7 : to drive along with steady force Debris was swept away by the tide.
8 : to become suddenly very popular throughout It's a show that is sweeping the nation.
9 : to achieve a complete or easy victory

Other Words from sweep

sweeper noun



Kids Definition of sweep (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a curving movement, course, or line I brushed it away with a sweep of my hand.
2 : an act or instance of cleaning with a broom or brush
3 : a wide stretch or curve of land
4 : something that sweeps or works with a sweeping motion
5 : a complete or easy victory
6 : range entry 1 sense 2, scope The island was outside the sweep of our vision.

More from Merriam-Webster on sweep

Nglish: Translation of sweep for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sweep for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about sweep


Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!