[ swim ]
See synonyms for: swimswamswimming on Thesaurus.com

verb (used without object),swam [swam], /swæm/, swum [swuhm], /swʌm/, swim·ming [swim-ing]. /ˈswɪm ɪŋ/.
  1. to move in water by movements of the limbs, fins, tail, etc.

  2. to float on the surface of water or some other liquid.

  1. to move, rest, or be suspended in air as if swimming in water.

  2. to move, glide, or go smoothly over a surface.

  3. to be immersed or steeped in or overflowing or flooded with a liquid:eyes swimming with tears.

  4. to be dizzy or giddy; seem to whirl: My head began to swim.

verb (used with object),swam [swam], /swæm/, swum [swuhm], /swʌm/, swim·ming [swim-ing]. /ˈswɪm ɪŋ/.
  1. to move along in or cross (a body of water) by swimming: to swim a lake.

  2. to perform (a particular stroke) in swimming: to swim a sidestroke.

  1. to cause to swim or float, as on a stream.

  2. to furnish with sufficient water to swim or float.

  1. an act, instance, or period of swimming.

  2. a motion as of swimming; a smooth, gliding movement.

Idioms about swim

  1. in the swim, alert to or actively engaged in events; in the thick of things: Despite her age, she is still in the swim.

Origin of swim

First recorded before 900; Middle English swimmen, Old English swimman; cognate with Dutch zwemmen, German schwimmen, Old Norse svimma

Other words from swim

  • swim·ma·ble, adjective
  • swimmer, noun
  • non·swim·mer, noun
  • outswim, verb, out·swam, out·swum, out·swim·ming.

Words Nearby swim

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

How to use swim in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for swim


/ (swɪm) /

verbswims, swimming, swam or swum
  1. (intr) to move along in water, etc, by means of movements of the body or parts of the body, esp the arms and legs, or (in the case of fish) tail and fins

  2. (tr) to cover (a distance or stretch of water) in this way

  1. (tr) to compete in (a race) in this way

  2. (intr) to be supported by and on a liquid; float

  3. (tr) to use (a particular stroke) in swimming

  4. (intr) to move smoothly, usually through air or over a surface

  5. (intr) to reel or seem to reel: my head swam; the room swam around me

  6. (intr; often foll by in or with) to be covered or flooded with water or other liquid

  7. (intr often foll by in) to be liberally supplied (with): he's swimming in money

  8. (tr) to cause to float or swim

  9. (tr) to provide (something) with water deep enough to float in

  10. swim against the tide or swim against the stream to resist prevailing opinion

  11. swim with the tide or swim with the stream to conform to prevailing opinion

  1. the act, an instance, or period of swimming

  2. any graceful gliding motion

  1. a condition of dizziness; swoon

  2. a pool in a river good for fishing

  3. in the swim informal fashionable or active in social or political activities

Origin of swim

Old English swimman; related to Old Norse svima, German schwimmen, Gothic swumsl pond, Norwegian svamla to paddle

Derived forms of swim

  • swimmable, adjective
  • swimmer, noun
  • swimming, noun, 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 swim


In addition to the idioms beginning with swim

  • swim against the current
  • swim with the tide

also see:

  • in the swim
  • sink or swim

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