verb (used with object), swin·dled, swin·dling.

to cheat (a person, business, etc.) out of money or other assets.
to obtain by fraud or deceit.

verb (used without object), swin·dled, swin·dling.

to put forward plausible schemes or use unscrupulous trickery to defraud others; cheat.


an act of swindling or a fraudulent transaction or scheme.
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

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for swindler

Contemporary Examples of swindler

  • The most ridiculous character in Pay Any Price may be Dennis Montgomery, who is described as an inveterate gambler and swindler.

  • From the start, we see him as he is: a despot and a swindler, a Dallas blue-blood with FBI ties, fleeing a violent past.

    The Daily Beast logo
    This Week’s Hot Reads, July 15, 2013

    Sarah Stodola, Jen Vafidis, Damaris Colhoun

    July 15, 2013

  • Top Producerby Norb Vonnegut A financial thriller about a Bernie Madoff-like swindler.

    The Daily Beast logo
    This Week's Hot Reads

    The Daily Beast

    September 21, 2009

  • I will turn and face you,” the 71-year swindler in a Savile Row-tailored charcoal-gray suit said flatly: “I am sorry.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Madoff Message

    Allan Dodds Frank

    June 29, 2009

  • We designed and built the incredible Swindler Cove Park, which sits at the top of Harlem River Drive.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Buddy, Can You Spare Three Million?

    Bette Midler

    May 11, 2009

Historical Examples of swindler

  • It was a trifle disconcerting to discover that she was the daughter of a swindler.

    The Greater Power

    Harold Bindloss

  • Did you ever hear of a case in which a swindler was swindled?

  • If he is a swindler, I certainly hope that sooner or later they expose him.

  • "Swindler, thief, scoundrel," were the terms he had thought of.

    Kept in the Dark

    Anthony Trollope

  • The swindler was not there, nor was he on the adjoining roof.

    The Rover Boys on the Farm

    Arthur M. Winfield (AKA Edward Stratemeyer)

British Dictionary definitions for swindler



to cheat (someone) of money, etc; defraud
(tr) to obtain (money, etc) by fraud


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 swindler

1774, from German Schwindler "giddy person, extravagant speculator, cheat," from schwindeln "to be giddy, act extravagantly, swindle," from Old High German swintilon "be giddy," frequentative form of swintan "to languish, disappear;" cognate with Old English swindan, and probably with swima "dizziness." Said to have been introduced in London by German Jews c.1762.



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper