- to grow in bulk, as by the absorption of moisture or the processes of growth.
- Pathology. to increase abnormally in size, as by inflation, distention, accumulation of fluids, or the like: Her ankles swelled from standing.
- to rise in waves, as the sea.
- to well up, as a spring or as tears.
- to bulge out, as a sail or the middle of a cask.
- to grow in amount, degree, force, etc.
- to increase gradually in volume or intensity, as sound: The music swelled.
- to arise and grow within one, as a feeling or emotion.
- to become puffed up with pride.
- to cause to grow in bulk.
- to cause to increase gradually in loudness: to swell a musical tone.
- to cause (a thing) to bulge out or be protuberant.
- to increase in amount, degree, force, etc.
- to affect with a strong, expansive emotion.
- to puff up with pride.
- the act of swelling or the condition of being swollen.
- inflation or distention.
- a protuberant part.
- a wave, especially when long and unbroken, or a series of such waves.
- a gradually rising elevation of the land.
- an increase in amount, degree, force, etc.
- a gradual increase in loudness of sound.
- a gradual increase (crescendo) followed by a gradual decrease (diminuendo) in loudness or force of musical sound.
- the sign (< >) for indicating this.
- a device, as in an organ, by which the loudness of tones may be varied.
- a swelling of emotion within one.
- a fashionably dressed person; dandy.
- a socially prominent person.
- (of things) stylish; elegant: a swell hotel.
- (of persons) fashionably dressed or socially prominent.
- first-rate; fine: a swell party.
Origin of swell
SynonymsSee more synonyms for swell on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for swell
It stands to reason the controversy will swell after the release.Kirk Cameron Saves Christmas from Abominable Killjoys (Other Christians)
November 14, 2014
“It would be a swell joke on tout-le-monde if you & Fife & I spent the summer at Juan-les-Pins,” she wrote.The Perils of Being a Hemingway Wife
February 23, 2014
And so the deficit can swell very rapidly during a recession.This Is the Golden Age of Deficit Reduction
December 12, 2013
An airy acoustic guitar begins to strum; a synthesized orchestra begins to swell.‘Reflektor’ Makes Arcade Fire the Biggest Band in the World
October 29, 2013
The sidewalks continued to swell with busy people, hell bent on getting to important places.
Far away through the forest might be heard its musical clangor and swell.The White Company
Arthur Conan Doyle
Now, the stool-pigeon in this trick is a swell English crook.Within the Law
Leave room for it to swell, but secure it firmly, so that no water can get in.
Pour in the pudding, and tie it tightly, leaving room for it to swell.
His ear, moreover, was very sore and began to swell rapidly.The Rock of Chickamauga
Joseph A. Altsheler
- to grow or cause to grow in size, esp as a result of internal pressureCompare contract (def. 1), contract (def. 3)
- to expand or cause to expand at a particular point or above the surrounding level; protrude
- to grow or cause to grow in size, amount, intensity, or degreethe party is swelling with new recruits
- to puff or be puffed up with pride or another emotion
- (intr) (of seas or lakes) to rise in waves
- (intr) to well up or overflow
- (tr) to make (a musical phrase) increase gradually in volume and then diminish
- the undulating movement of the surface of the open sea
- a succession of waves or a single large wave
- a swelling or being swollen; expansion
- an increase in quantity or degree; inflation
- a bulge; protuberance
- a gentle hill
- informal a person very fashionably dressed
- informal a man of high social or political standing
- music a crescendo followed by an immediate diminuendo
- Also called: swell organ music
- informal stylish or grand
- slang excellent; first-class
Word Origin and History for swell
Old English swellan "grow or make bigger" (past tense sweall, past participle swollen), from Proto-Germanic *swelnanan (cf. Old Saxon swellan, Old Norse svella, Old Frisian swella, Middle Dutch swellen, Dutch zwellen, Old High German swellan, German schwellen), of unknown origin.
early 13c., "a morbid swelling," from swell (v.). In reference to a rise of the sea, it is attested from c.1600. The meaning "wealthy, elegant person" is first recorded 1786; hence the adjectival meaning "fashionably dressed or equipped" (1810), both from the notion of "puffed-up, pompous" behavior. The sense of "good, excellent" first occurs 1897, and as a stand-alone expression of satisfaction it is recorded from 1930 in American English.