verb (used with object), swad·dled, swad·dling.

to bind (an infant, especially a newborn infant) with long, narrow strips of cloth to prevent free movement; wrap tightly with clothes.
to wrap (anything) round with bandages.


a long, narrow strip of cloth used for swaddling or bandaging.

Origin of swaddle

1375–1425; late Middle English, in suadiling (gerund); akin by gradation to Middle English swethel (noun), Old English; see swathe1, -le
Related formsun·swad·dled, adjectiveun·swad·dling, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for swaddle

sheathe, clothe, swathe, wrap, cover, bundle, enwrap, restrict, bind, restrain, bandage

Examples from the Web for swaddle

Contemporary Examples of swaddle

  • The English approach is to swaddle any attacks with disarming self-deprecation.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Brit Wits Bash America

    Sean Macaulay

    February 17, 2010

Historical Examples of swaddle

British Dictionary definitions for swaddle


verb (tr)

to wind a bandage round
to wrap (a baby) in swaddling clothes
to restrain as if by wrapping with bandages; smother


mainly US swaddling clothes

Word Origin for swaddle

C15: from Old English swæthel swaddling clothes; related to swathian to swathe
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

Word Origin and History for swaddle

c.1300, probably a frequentative form of Old English swaþian (see swathe). Related: Swaddled; swaddling. Phrase swaddling clothes is from Coverdale (1535) translation of Luke ii:7.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper