Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search
See also: SWIM


woman swimming
Video of men swimming


From Middle English swimmen, from Old English swimman ‎(to swim, float) (class III strong verb; past tense swamm, past participle geswummen), from Proto-Germanic *swimmaną ‎(to swoon, lose consciousness, swim), from Proto-Indo-European *swem(bʰ)- ‎(to be unsteady, move, swim). Cognate with Scots sweem, soom ‎(to swim), Saterland Frisian swimme ‎(to swim), West Frisian swimme ‎(to swim, float), Dutch zwemmen ‎(to swim), German schwimmen ‎(to swim), Danish svømme ‎(to swim), Swedish simma ‎(to swim).



swim ‎(third-person singular simple present swims, present participle swimming, simple past swam or (archaic) swum, past participle swum)

  1. (intransitive, archaic) To float.
    sink or swim
    • 2 Kings VI:6 (KJV)
      And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim.
    • Wm. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
      Why, now, blow wind, swell billow, and swim bark! The storm is up and all is on the hazard.
  2. (intransitive) To move through the water, without touching the bottom; to propel oneself in water by natural means.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, “Foreword”, in The China Governess[1]:
      He turned back to the scene before him and the enormous new block of council dwellings. The design was some way after Corbusier but the block was built up on plinths and resembled an Atlantic liner swimming diagonally across the site.
  3. (transitive) To traverse (a specific body of water, or a specific distance) by swimming; or, to utilize a specific swimming stroke; or, to compete in a specific swimming event.
    For exercise, we like to swim laps around the pool.
    I want to swim the 200-yard breaststroke in the finals.
    • Dryden
      Sometimes he thought to swim the stormy main.
  4. (transitive, uncommon) To cause to swim.
    to swim a horse across a river
    Half of the guinea pigs were swum daily.
  5. (intransitive) To be overflowed or drenched.
    • Psalm VI:6 (KJV)
      I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.
    • Thomson
      Sudden the ditches swell, the meadows swim.
  6. (transitive) To immerse in water to make the lighter parts float.
    to swim wheat in order to select seed
  7. (transitive, historical) To test (a suspected witch) by throwing into a river; those who floated rather than sinking were deemed to be witches.
  8. (transitive) To undergo a giddy sensation.
    My head was swimming after drinking two bottles of cheap wine.

Derived terms[edit]



swim ‎(plural swims)

  1. An act or instance of swimming.
    I'm going for a swim.
  2. The sound, or air bladder, of a fish.
  3. (Britain) A part of a stream much frequented by fish.

Derived terms[edit]


See also[edit]