From Middle English swymmen, from Old English swimman (“to swim, float”) (class III strong verb; past tense swamm, past participle geswummen), from Proto-West Germanic *swimman, from Proto-Germanic *swimmaną (“to swoon, lose consciousness, swim”), from Proto-Indo-European *swem(bʰ)- (“to be unsteady, move, swim”).
- (intransitive) To move through the water, without touching the bottom; to propel oneself in water by natural means.
- 2020 May 20, Paul Stephen, “NR beats floods to secure tracks to Drax”, in Rail, page 59:
- Meanwhile, NR faced an unexpected challenge when a night watchman spotted several Koi Carp swimming in floodwater close to the railway, after they had escaped from a nearby private residence. Wilson says the owner was eventually traced, and the fish were safely returned "after enjoying swimming around in a 3,000-acre lake".
- (intransitive) To become immersed in, or as if in, or flooded with, or as if with, a liquid
- swimming in self-pity
- a bare few bits of meat swimming in watery sauce
- (intransitive) To move around freely because of excess space.
- 1777, The Poetical Preceptor; Or, a Collection of Select Pieces of Poetry, Etc:
- A fam'd Sur-tout he wears, which once was blue, / And his foot swims in a capacious shoe.
- (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.
- (transitive, uncommon) To cause to swim.
- to swim a horse across a river
- Half of the guinea pigs were swum daily.
- (intransitive, archaic) To float.
- sink or swim
- 1599 (first performance), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Iulius Cæsar”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act V, scene i]:
- Why, now, blow wind, swell billow, and swim bark!
The storm is up and all is on the hazard.
- (intransitive) To be overflowed or drenched.
- (transitive) To immerse in water to make the lighter parts float.
- to swim wheat in order to select seed
- (transitive, historical) To test (a suspected witch) by throwing into a river; those who floated rather than sinking were deemed to be witches.
- (intransitive) To glide along with a waving motion.
- In Late Middle English and Early Modern English, the present participle form swimmand still sometimes occurred in Midlands and Northern dialects, for exampleː
swim (plural swims)
- An act or instance of swimming.
- I'm going for a swim.
- The sound, or air bladder, of a fish.
- (UK) A part of a stream much frequented by fish.
- A dance move of the 1960s in which the arms are moved in a freestyle swimming manner.
From Middle English swime, sweme, swaime (“a dizziness, swoon, trance”), from Old English swīma (“a swoon, swimming in the head”). Cognate with Swedish svimma (“to swoon, faint”) and Danish svime (“to swoon, faint”) / Danish besvime (“to swoon, faint”).
swim (plural swims)
- (intransitive) To be dizzy or vertiginous; have a giddy sensation; to have, or appear to have, a whirling motion.
- 1837, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], “The End of Doubt”, in Ethel Churchill: Or, The Two Brides. […], volume I, London: Henry Colburn, […], →OCLC, page 291:
- She snatched the letter from Sir Jasper, who started as her icy hand touched his: she attempted to read the passage herself, but the letters seemed to swim before her gaze: they turned to fire; the paper dropped from her grasp; a thick mist appeared to gather over the room; she gave a convulsive shudder, and dropped on the floor perfectly insensible.
- My head was swimming after drinking two bottles of cheap wine.
Abbreviation of someone who isn't me.
swim (plural not attested)
- (Internet slang, text messaging) Abbreviation of . used as a way to avoid self-designation or self-incrimination, especially in online drug forums
- “swim”, in OneLook Dictionary Search.