adjective, swift·er, swift·est.




Origin of swift

before 900; Middle English (adj. and adv.), Old English (adj.); akin to Old English swīfan to revolve, Old Norse svīfa to rove; see swivel
Related formsswift·ly, adverbswift·ness, noun
Can be confusedfast quick rapid swift (see synonym study at quick)

Synonyms for swift

1. speedy. See quick. 2. expeditious.




Gustavus Franklin,1839–1903, U.S. meat packer.
JonathanIsaac Bickerstaff, 1667–1745, English satirist and clergyman, born in Ireland.




Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication: an international consortium that routes instructions concerning transfer of funds between financial institutions.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for swift

Contemporary Examples of swift

Historical Examples of swift

  • One swift glance had shown him there was no way of instant retreat.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Then there was a current of curses, a swift hissing of invective.

  • By the way, what inducements could a swift writer as he have to learn short-hand!

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • This feeling was intensified by the belief that Swift, as a clergyman, was insincere.

  • Again, Aggie studied him with a swift glance of interrogation.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

British Dictionary definitions for swift



moving or able to move quickly; fast
occurring or performed quickly or suddenly; instanta swift response
(postpositive foll by to) prompt to act or respondswift to take revenge


  1. swiftly or quickly
  2. (in combination)swift-moving


any bird of the families Apodidae and Hemiprocnidae, such as Apus apus (common swift) of the Old World: order Apodiformes. They have long narrow wings and spend most of the time on the wing
(sometimes capital) a variety of domestic fancy pigeon originating in Egypt and Syria and having an appearance somewhat similar to a swift
short for swift moth
any of certain North American lizards of the genera Sceloporus and Uta that can run very rapidly: family Iguanidae (iguanas)
the main cylinder in a carding machine
an expanding circular frame used to hold skeins of silk, wool, etc
Derived Formsswiftly, adverbswiftness, noun

Word Origin for swift

Old English, from swīfan to turn; related to Old Norse svifa to rove, Old Frisian swīvia to waver, Old High German sweib a reversal; see swivel



Graham Colin. born 1949, English writer: his novels include Waterland (1983), Last Orders (1996), which won the Booker prize, and The Light of Day (2002)
Jonathan. 1667–1745, Anglo-Irish satirist and churchman, who became dean of St Patrick's, Dublin, in 1713. His works include A Tale of a Tub (1704) and Gulliver's Travels (1726)
Derived FormsSwiftian, 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

Word Origin and History for swift

Old English swift "moving quickly," related to swifan "move in a course, sweep" (see swivel). Related: Swiftly; swiftness.


type of bird (several species of the family Cypselidæ, resembling swallows), 1660s, from swift (adj.) in reference to its swift flight. Regarded as a bird of ill-omen, if not downright demonic, probably for its shrill cry. The name earlier had been given to several small fast lizards (1520s).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper