[ swol-oh ]
See synonyms for: swallowswallowedswallowing on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)
  1. to take into the stomach by drawing through the throat and esophagus with a voluntary muscular action, as food, drink, or other substances.

  2. to take in so as to envelop; withdraw from sight; assimilate or absorb: He was swallowed by the crowd.

  1. to accept without question or suspicion; believe; trust.

  2. to accept without opposition; put up with: to swallow an insult.

  3. to accept for lack of an alternative: Consumers will have to swallow new price hikes.

  4. to suppress (emotion, a laugh, a sob, etc.) as if by drawing it down one's throat.

  5. to take back; retract: to swallow one's words.

  6. to enunciate poorly; mutter: He swallowed his words.

verb (used without object)
  1. to perform the act of swallowing.

  1. the act or an instance of swallowing.

  2. a quantity swallowed at one time; a mouthful: Take one swallow of brandy.

  1. capacity for swallowing.

  2. Also called crown, throat .Nautical, Machinery. the space in a block, between the groove of the sheave and the shell, through which the rope runs.

Origin of swallow

First recorded before 1000; Middle English verb swolwen, swalwen, Old English swelgan; cognate with German schwelgen; akin to Old Norse svelgja; Middle English noun swolwe, swoluh, Old English geswelgh “throat, abyss, whirlpool”; akin to Middle Low German swelch, Old High German swelgo “glutton,” Old Norse svelgr “swirl, whirlpool; devourer”

Other words for swallow

Opposites for swallow

Other words from swallow

  • swal·low·a·ble, adjective
  • swal·low·er, noun
  • un·swal·low·a·ble, adjective
  • un·swal·lowed, adjective

Words Nearby swallow

Other definitions for swallow (2 of 2)

[ swol-oh ]

  1. any of numerous small, long-winged passerine birds of the family Hirundinidae, noted for their swift, graceful flight and for the extent and regularity of their migrations.: Compare bank swallow, barn swallow, martin.

  2. any of several unrelated, swallowlike birds, as the chimney swift.

Origin of swallow

First recorded before 900; Middle English swal(e)we, Old English sweal(e)we; cognate with German Schwalbe, Old Norse svala

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use swallow in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for swallow (1 of 2)


/ (ˈswɒləʊ) /

verb(mainly tr)
  1. to pass (food, drink, etc) through the mouth to the stomach by means of the muscular action of the oesophagus

  2. (often foll by up) to engulf or destroy as if by ingestion: Nazi Germany swallowed up several small countries

  1. informal to believe gullibly: he will never swallow such an excuse

  2. to refrain from uttering or manifesting: to swallow one's disappointment

  3. to endure without retaliation

  4. to enunciate (words, etc) indistinctly; mutter

  5. (often foll by down) to eat or drink reluctantly

  6. (intr) to perform or simulate the act of swallowing, as in gulping

  7. swallow one's words to retract a statement, argument, etc, often in humiliating circumstances

  1. the act of swallowing

  2. the amount swallowed at any single time; mouthful

  1. Also called: crown, throat nautical the opening between the shell and the groove of the sheave of a block, through which the rope is passed

  2. rare another word for throat, gullet

  3. rare a capacity for swallowing; appetite

Origin of swallow

Old English swelgan; related to Old Norse svelga, Old High German swelgan to swallow, Swedish svalg gullet

Derived forms of swallow

  • swallowable, adjective
  • swallower, noun

British Dictionary definitions for swallow (2 of 2)


/ (ˈswɒləʊ) /

  1. any passerine songbird of the family Hirundinidae, esp Hirundo rustica (common or barn swallow), having long pointed wings, a forked tail, short legs, and a rapid flight: Related adjective: hirundine

Origin of swallow

Old English swealwe; related to Old Frisian swale, Old Norse svala, Old High German swalwa

Derived forms of swallow

  • swallow-like, 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

Other Idioms and Phrases with swallow


In addition to the idioms beginning with swallow

  • swallow one's pride
  • swallow one's words

also see:

  • bitter pill to swallow

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.