[ swel ]
See synonyms for: swellswelledswellingswollen on Thesaurus.com

verb (used without object),swelled, swol·len or swelled, swell·ing.
  1. to grow in bulk, as by the absorption of moisture or the processes of growth.

  2. Pathology. to increase abnormally in size, as by inflation, distention, accumulation of fluids, or the like: Her ankles swelled from standing.

  1. to rise in waves, as the sea.

  2. to well up, as a spring or as tears.

  3. to bulge out, as a sail or the middle of a cask.

  4. to grow in amount, degree, force, etc.

  5. to increase gradually in volume or intensity, as sound: The music swelled.

  6. to arise and grow within one, as a feeling or emotion.

  7. to become puffed up with pride.

verb (used with object),swelled, swol·len or swelled, swell·ing.
  1. to cause to grow in bulk.

  2. to cause to increase gradually in loudness: to swell a musical tone.

  1. to cause (a thing) to bulge out or be protuberant.

  2. to increase in amount, degree, force, etc.

  3. to affect with a strong, expansive emotion.

  4. to puff up with pride.

  1. the act of swelling or the condition of being swollen.

  2. inflation or distention.

  1. a protuberant part.

  2. a wave, especially when long and unbroken, or a series of such waves.

  3. a gradually rising elevation of the land.

  4. an increase in amount, degree, force, etc.

  5. a gradual increase in loudness of sound.

  6. Music.

    • 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.

  7. a swelling of emotion within one.

  8. Slang.

    • a fashionably dressed person; dandy.

    • a socially prominent person.

  1. (of things) stylish; elegant: a swell hotel.

  2. (of persons) fashionably dressed or socially prominent.

  1. first-rate; fine: a swell party.

Origin of swell

First recorded before 900; Middle English swellen (verb), Old English swellan; cognate with Dutch zwellen, German schwellen, Old Norse svella; akin to Gothic ufswalleins “pride”

Other words for swell

Opposites for swell

Other words from swell

  • re·swell, verb, re·swelled, re·swelled or re·swol·len, re·swell·ing.
  • un·der·swell, verb (used without object), un·der·swelled, un·der·swelled or un·der·swol·len, un·der·swell·ing.
  • un·der·swell, noun
  • un·swelled, adjective

Words Nearby swell

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

How to use swell in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for swell


/ (swɛl) /

verbswells, swelling, swelled, swollen or swelled
  1. to grow or cause to grow in size, esp as a result of internal pressure: Compare contract (def. 1), contract (def. 3)

  2. to expand or cause to expand at a particular point or above the surrounding level; protrude

  1. to grow or cause to grow in size, amount, intensity, or degree: the party is swelling with new recruits

  2. to puff or be puffed up with pride or another emotion

  3. (intr) (of seas or lakes) to rise in waves

  4. (intr) to well up or overflow

  5. (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

  1. a swelling or being swollen; expansion

  1. an increase in quantity or degree; inflation

  2. a bulge; protuberance

  3. a gentle hill

  4. informal a person very fashionably dressed

  5. informal a man of high social or political standing

  6. music a crescendo followed by an immediate diminuendo

  7. Also called: swell organ music

    • a set of pipes on an organ housed in a box (swell box) fitted with a shutter operated by a pedal, which can be opened or closed to control the volume

    • the manual on an organ controlling this: Compare choir (def. 4), great (def. 21)

  1. informal stylish or grand

  2. slang excellent; first-class

Origin of swell

Old English swellan; related to Old Norse svella, Old Frisian swella, German schwellen

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