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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)

  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.
    • Michael Drayton
      Proud Tamer swoops along, with such a lusty train


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


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. A sudden act of seizing.
    • John Webster
      Fortune's a right whore. If she give ought, she deals it in small parcels, that she may take away all at one swoop.
  3. (music) A quick passage from one note to the next.
    • 2008, Russell Dean Vines, Composing Digital Music For Dummies (page 281)
      Originally, computers' attempts at making music were recognizable by their beeps and boops and weird swoops.


See also[edit]