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From a fusion of Middle English swam (swamp, muddy pool, bog, marsh", also "fungus, mushroom), from Old English swamm (mushroom, fungus, sponge), and Middle English sompe (marsh, morass), from Middle Dutch somp, sump (marsh, swamp), or Middle Low German sump (marsh, swamp), from Old Saxon *sump (swamp, marsh); all from Proto-Germanic *sumpaz. Cognate with Dutch zwamp (swamp, marsh, fen), Middle Low German swamp (sponge, mushroom), Dutch zomp (swamp, lake, marshy place), German Low German Sump (swamp, bog, marsh), German Sumpf (swamp), Swedish sump (swamp). Related also to Dutch zwam (fungus, punk, tinder), German Schwamm (mushroom, fungus, sponge), Swedish svamp (mushroom, fungus, sponge), Icelandic svampur, sveppur (fungus), Gothic 𐍃𐍅𐌿𐌼𐍃𐌻 (swumsl, a ditch). Related to sump, swim.


  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɒmp


swamp (plural swamps)

  1. A piece of wet, spongy land; low ground saturated with water; soft, wet ground which may have a growth of certain kinds of trees, but is unfit for agricultural or pastoral purposes.
  2. A type of wetland that stretches for vast distances, and is home to many creatures who have adapted specifically to that environment.

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swamp (third-person singular simple present swamps, present participle swamping, simple past and past participle swamped)

  1. To drench or fill with water.
    The boat was swamped in the storm.
  2. To overwhelm; to make too busy, or overrun the capacity of.
    I have been swamped with paperwork ever since they started using the new system.
    • 2018 February 10, Phil McNulty, “Tottenham Hotspur 1 - 0 Arsenal”, in BBC[1]:
      It was only the outstanding Cech that stood between Arsenal and a second-half rout as Spurs simply swamped their opponents after the break with a formidable display of power, pace and sheer intensity.
    • 2006, New York Times,
      Mr. Spitzer’s defeat of his Democratic opponent ... ended a primary season in which Hillary Rodham Clinton swamped an antiwar challenger for renomination to the Senate.
  3. (figuratively) To plunge into difficulties and perils; to overwhelm; to ruin; to wreck.
    • J. R. Green
      The Whig majority of the house of Lords was swamped by the creation of twelve Tory peers.
    • W. Hamilton
      Having swamped himself in following the ignis fatuus of a theory []