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verb (used with object), swin·dled, swin·dling.
  1. to cheat (a person, business, etc.) out of money or other assets.
  2. to obtain by fraud or deceit.
verb (used without object), swin·dled, swin·dling.
  1. to put forward plausible schemes or use unscrupulous trickery to defraud others; cheat.
  1. an act of swindling or a fraudulent transaction or scheme.
  2. anything deceptive; a fraud: This advertisement is a real swindle.

Origin of swindle

1775–85; back formation from swindler < German Schwindler irresponsible person, promoter of wildcat schemes, cheat, derivative of schwindeln to be dizzy (hence dizzy-minded, irresponsible), defraud, equivalent to schwind- (akin to Old English swindan to languish) + -(e)l- -le + -er -er1
Related formsswin·dle·a·ble, adjectiveswin·dler, nounswin·dling·ly, adverbout·swin·dle, verb (used with object), out·swin·dled, out·swin·dling.

Synonyms for swindle

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for swindle


  1. to cheat (someone) of money, etc; defraud
  2. (tr) to obtain (money, etc) by fraud
  1. a fraudulent scheme or transaction
Derived Formsswindler, noun

Word Origin for swindle

C18: back formation from German Schwindler, from schwindeln, from Old High German swintilōn, frequentative of swintan to disappear
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 swindle

1782, back-formation from swindler. Related: Swindled; swindling. As a noun from 1833.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper