• synonyms


adjective, swift·er, swift·est.
  1. moving or capable of moving with great speed or velocity; fleet; rapid: a swift ship.
  2. coming, happening, or performed quickly or without delay: a swift decision.
  3. quick or prompt to act or respond: swift to jump to conclusions.
  4. Slang. quick to perceive or understand; smart; clever: You can't cheat him, he's too swift.
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  1. swiftly.
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  1. any of numerous long-winged, swallowlike birds of the family Apodidae, related to the hummingbirds and noted for their rapid flight.
  2. tree swift.
  3. spiny lizard.
  4. Also called swift moth, ghost moth. any of several brown or gray moths, the males of which are usually white, of the family Hepialidae, noted for rapid flight.
  5. an adjustable device upon which a hank of yarn is placed in order to wind off skeins or balls.
  6. the main cylinder on a machine for carding flax.
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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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for swiftest

rapid, unexpected, hasty, nimble, sudden, abrupt, quick, speedy, expeditious, short, prompt, flying, express, spanking, precipitate, ready, fleet, cracking, screaming, breakneck

Examples from the Web for swiftest

Contemporary Examples of swiftest

Historical Examples of swiftest

  • You're goin' to destruction with your swiftest foot and leg!

    Farm Ballads

    Will Carleton

  • Is it not a race in which the swiftest must surely win the prize; and is not that prize power?

    Vivian Grey

    Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli

  • Nor are we right in supposing that the swiftest of them is the slowest, nor conversely, that the slowest is the quickest.



  • She was so light in running that she outran the swiftest dogs.

    The Phantom World

    Augustin Calmet

  • Which, when it comes to cold intrigue, that a-way, I'm the swiftest sport in our set.'

    Faro Nell and Her Friends

    Alfred Henry Lewis

British Dictionary definitions for swiftest


  1. moving or able to move quickly; fast
  2. occurring or performed quickly or suddenly; instanta swift response
  3. (postpositive foll by to) prompt to act or respondswift to take revenge
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    1. swiftly or quickly
    2. (in combination)swift-moving
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  1. 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
  2. (sometimes capital) a variety of domestic fancy pigeon originating in Egypt and Syria and having an appearance somewhat similar to a swift
  3. short for swift moth
  4. any of certain North American lizards of the genera Sceloporus and Uta that can run very rapidly: family Iguanidae (iguanas)
  5. the main cylinder in a carding machine
  6. an expanding circular frame used to hold skeins of silk, wool, etc
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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


  1. 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)
  2. 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)
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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 swiftest



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

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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).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper