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See also: Swallow


English Wikipedia has articles on:


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈswɒləʊ/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈswɑloʊ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɒləʊ

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English swolowen, swolwen, swolȝen, swelwen, swelȝen, from Old English swelgan (to swallow, incorporate, absorb, imbibe, devour), from Proto-Germanic *swelganą (to swallow, revel, devour), from Proto-Indo-European *swelk- (to gulp). Cognate with Dutch zwelgen (to revel, carouse, guzzle), German schwelgen (to delight, indulge), Swedish svälja (to swallow, gulp), Icelandic svelgja (to swallow), Old English swillan, swilian (to swill, wash out, gargle). See also swill.

The noun is from late Old English swelg (gulf, chasm), from the verb.

Alternative forms[edit]


swallow (third-person singular simple present swallows, present participle swallowing, simple past and past participle swallowed)

  1. (transitive) To cause (food, drink etc.) to pass from the mouth into the stomach; to take into the stomach through the throat. [from 11th c.]
    • 1898, J. Meade Falkner, Moonfleet Chapter 4:
      What the liquor was I do not know, but it was not so strong but that I could swallow it in great gulps and found it less burning than my burning throat.
    • 2011, Jonathan Jones, The Guardian, 21 Apr 2011:
      Clothes are to be worn and food is to be swallowed: they remain trapped in the physical world.
  2. (transitive) To take (something) in so that it disappears; to consume, absorb. [from 13th c.]
    • (Can we date this quote by John Locke and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      The necessary provision of the life swallows the greatest part of their time.
    • 2010, "What are the wild waves saying", The Economist, 28 Oct 2010:
      His body, like so many others swallowed by the ocean’s hungry maw, was never found.
  3. (intransitive) To take food down into the stomach; to make the muscular contractions of the oesophagus to achieve this, often taken as a sign of nervousness or strong emotion. [from 18th c.]
    My throat was so sore that I was unable to swallow.
    • 1979, VC Andrews, Flowers in the Attic:
      She swallowed nervously then, appearing near sick with what she had to say.
  4. (transitive) To accept easily or without questions; to believe, accept. [from 16th c.]
    • (Can we date this quote by Sir Thomas Browne and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      Though that story [] be not so readily swallowed.
    • 2011, Madeleine Bunting, The Guardian, 22 Apr 2011:
      Americans swallowed his tale because they wanted to.
  5. (intransitive) To engross; to appropriate; usually with up.
  6. (transitive) To retract; to recant.
    to swallow one's opinions
  7. (transitive) To put up with; to bear patiently or without retaliation.
    to swallow an affront or insult
Derived terms[edit]
Terms derived from swallow (verb)


swallow (countable and uncountable, plural swallows)

  1. (archaic) A deep chasm or abyss in the earth.
  2. The amount swallowed in one gulp; the act of swallowing.
    He took the aspirin with a single swallow of water.
    • 1978, Tom Reamy, Blind Voices:
      She took a swallow of milk and made a face. "This milk is blinky."
  3. (Nigeria) Any of various carbohydrate-based dishes that are swallowed without much chewing.

See also[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

English Wikipedia has an article on:
A red-rumped swallow

From Middle English swalwe, swalewe, swalowe, from Old English swealwe, from Proto-Germanic *swalwǭ. Cognate with Danish and Norwegian svale, Dutch zwaluw, German Schwalbe, Swedish svala.


swallow (plural swallows)

  1. A small, migratory bird of the Hirundinidae family with long, pointed, moon-shaped wings and a forked tail which feeds on the wing by catching insects.
  2. (nautical) The aperture in a block through which the rope reeves.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Ham. Nav. Encyc to this entry?)
  • (bird of Hirundinidae): martin
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]
  • (bird of Hirundinidae): martlet (type of feetless bird in heraldry)