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[swift] /swɪft/
Gustavus Franklin, 1839–1903, U.S. meat packer.
Jonathan ("Isaac Bickerstaff") 1667–1745, English satirist and clergyman, born in Ireland. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for jonathan swift
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • jonathan swift, for thirty years Dean of this Cathedral, lies here, where savage indignation can no longer tear his heart.

    The Charm of Ireland Burton Egbert Stevenson
  • The difficulty is quaintly indicated in a remark by jonathan swift.

    Social Rights And Duties Leslie Stephen
  • As an all-round satirist jonathan swift has no superior save Dryden, and he only by virtue of his broader human sympathies.

    English Satires Various
  • Eugenio, who represents jonathan swift, fails in life because as a wit and a poet he has not the art of winning patronage.

    Swift Leslie Stephen
  • Do not forget that great and beautiful maxim of jonathan swift: That a lie is too good a thing to be lavished about!

    Letters to an Unknown Prosper Mrime
  • I have left out of the list one whom nature endowed for the supreme man of humor among Englishmen,—jonathan swift.

    The Gentle Reader Samuel McChord Crothers
  • And because they did defy praise, jonathan swift never asked, and was ever too grand to accept it.

British Dictionary definitions for jonathan swift


moving or able to move quickly; fast
occurring or performed quickly or suddenly; instant: a swift response
(postpositive) foll by to. prompt to act or respond: swift to take revenge
  1. swiftly or quickly
  2. (in combination): swift-moving
any bird of the families Apodidae and Hemiprocnidae, such as Apus apus (common swift) of the Old World: order Apodiformes. They have long narrow wings and spend most of the time on the wing
(sometimes capital) a variety of domestic fancy pigeon originating in Egypt and Syria and having an appearance somewhat similar to a swift
short for swift moth
any of certain North American lizards of the genera Sceloporus and Uta that can run very rapidly: family Iguanidae (iguanas)
the main cylinder in a carding machine
an expanding circular frame used to hold skeins of silk, wool, etc
Derived Forms
swiftly, adverb
swiftness, noun
Word Origin
Old English, from swīfan to turn; related to Old Norse svifa to rove, Old Frisian swīvia to waver, Old High German sweib a reversal; see swivel


Graham Colin. born 1949, English writer: his novels include Waterland (1983), Last Orders (1996), which won the Booker prize, and The Light of Day (2002)
Jonathan. 1667–1745, Anglo-Irish satirist and churchman, who became dean of St Patrick's, Dublin, in 1713. His works include A Tale of a Tub (1704) and Gulliver's Travels (1726)
Derived Forms
Swiftian, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for jonathan swift



Old English swift "moving quickly," related to swifan "move in a course, sweep" (see swivel). Related: Swiftly; swiftness.


type of bird (several species of the family Cypselidæ, resembling swallows), 1660s, from swift (adj.) in reference to its swift flight. Regarded as a bird of ill-omen, if not downright demonic, probably for its shrill cry. The name earlier had been given to several small fast lizards (1520s).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for jonathan swift



Smart and clever; intelligent: Not too swift, is he

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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