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From Middle English swopen, from Old English swāpan ‎(to sweep).



swoop ‎(third-person singular simple present swoops, present participle swooping, simple past and past participle swooped) (intransitive)

  1. (intransitive) to fly or glide downwards suddenly; to plunge (in the air) or nosedive
    The lone eagle swooped down into the lake, snatching its prey, a small fish.
  2. (intransitive) to move swiftly, as if with a sweeping movement, especially to attack something
    The dog had enthusiastically swooped down on the bone.
    • 1922, Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
      There was a person called Nana who ruled the nursery. Sometimes she took no notice of the playthings lying about, and sometimes, for no reason whatever, she went swooping about like a great wind and hustled them away in cupboards.
  3. (transitive) To fall on at once and seize; to catch while on the wing.
    A hawk swoops a chicken.
  4. (transitive) To seize; to catch up; to take with a sweep.
    • Dryden
      And now at last you came to swoop it all.
    • Glanvill
      The grazing ox which swoops it [the medicinal herb] in with the common grass.
  5. To pass with pomp; to sweep.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Drayton to this entry?)


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swoop ‎(plural swoops)

  1. an instance, or the act of suddenly plunging downward
    The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim. – Sun Tzu
    • 1922, Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
      One evening, when the Boy was going to bed, he couldn't find the china dog that always slept with him. Nana was in a hurry, and it was too much trouble to hunt for china dogs at bedtime, so she simply looked about her, and seeing that the toy cupboard door stood open, she made a swoop.
  2. an act of rushedly doing something
    Fortune's a right whore. If she give ought, she deals it in small parcels, that she may take away all at one swoop. – John Webster
  3. (music) passing quickly from one note to the next