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[swahyp] /swaɪp/
a strong, sweeping blow, as with a cricket bat or golf club.
Informal. a swing of the arm in order to strike somebody; punch.
Informal. a critical or cutting remark.
a leverlike device for raising or lowering a weight, especially a bucket in a well; sweep.
an act or instance of swiping:
You can debit your checking account with just a swipe of your card.
Also called rubber. Horse Racing. a person who rubs down horses in a stable; groom.
verb (used with object), swiped, swiping.
to strike with a sweeping blow.
Informal. to steal:
He'll swipe anything that isn't nailed down.
to slide (a magnetic card) quickly through an electronic device that reads data.
Digital Technology. to move a finger or fingers, or a stylus, across an area on (a touchscreen) in order to execute a command:
Put your finger on the arrow and swipe the screen to the right to unlock your phone.
verb (used without object), swiped, swiping.
to make a sweeping stroke.
to slide a magnetic card through an electronic device.
Digital Technology. to move the fingers across a touchscreen:
Swipe to the right to close the article.
Origin of swipe
1730-40; akin to sweep1; cognate with German schweifen Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for swipe
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And if you don't cough up a thousand and let me go, I'll swipe anything in sight.

    Shorty McCabe Sewell Ford
  • Not that I swipe the whiskey, just sorry because I gets sick!

  • He goes to make a swipe at figure on other side of stairs—sees Rusty.

    The Ghost Breaker Paul Dickey
  • The swipe I took at him should have swept him over, but he got his coils around me.

    Vigorish Gordon Randall Garrett
  • Still, how was he to know they were going to swipe his idea?

    Carl and the Cotton Gin

    Sara Ware Bassett
British Dictionary definitions for swipe


(informal) when intr, usually foll by at. to hit hard with a sweeping blow
(transitive) (slang) to steal
(transitive) to pass a machine-readable card, such as a credit card, debit card, etc, through a machine that electronically interprets the information encoded, usu. in a magnetic strip, on the card
(informal) a hard blow
an unexpected criticism of someone or something while discussing another subject
Also called sweep. a type of lever for raising and lowering a weight, such as a bucket in a well
Word Origin
C19: perhaps related to sweep
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 swipe

1807, "a driving stroke made with the arms in full swing," perhaps a dialectal variant of sweep (n.), or in part from obsolete swip "a stroke, blow" (c.1200), from Proto-Germanic *swip-, related to Old English swipu "a stick, whip." Other possible sources or influences are Middle English swope "to sweep with broad movements" (in reference to brooms, swords, etc.), from Old English swapan; obsolete swaip "stroke, blow;" or obsolete swape "oar, pole."


1825, from swipe (v.). The slang sense of "steal, pilfer" appeared 1885, American English; earliest use in prison jargon:

The blokes in the next cell, little Charley Ames and the Sheeney Kid, they was hot to try it, and swiped enough shoe-lining out of shop No. 5, where they worked, to make us all breeches to the stripes. ["Lippincott's Magazine," vol. 35, June 1885]
Meaning "run a credit card" is 1990s. Related: Swiped; swiper; swiping.

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

swipe 1


A stroke or blow, esp a strong one • Most often in the phrase take a swipe at: Let somebody take a swipe at him (1807+)


  1. To steal, esp something small or trivial; pilfer: nix on swiping anything (1889+)
  2. To run a credit card, identification card, etc, through an electronic detector groove: Swipe your card there and the door will open (1990s+)

Related Terms


[all senses perhaps fr alterations of sweep or swoop and the actions of sweeping or swooping up, or of hitting a sweeping blow; noun sense perhaps fr dialect preservation of Old English swippan, ''beat, scourge'']

swipe 2


Inferior liquor, esp of the homemade sort: the homemade bootleg mess made by the natives out of fruit and called ''swipe''

[1960s+; probably related to several late 1780s and early 1800s British senses of swipe, ''to gulp liquor quickly and deeply,'' of swipes, ''small beer,'' and of swipey, ''tipsy,'' all of which may be related to the British nautical swipes, ''rinsings of the beer barrel,'' and hence to a sibilation of wipe]

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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