What does sweep mean?

Definitions for sweep

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word sweep.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. sweep, expansenoun

    a wide scope

    "the sweep of the plains"

  2. chimneysweeper, chimneysweep, sweepnoun

    someone who cleans soot from chimneys

  3. slam, sweepnoun

    winning all or all but one of the tricks in bridge

  4. sweep, sweep oarnoun

    a long oar used in an open boat

  5. end run, sweepnoun

    (American football) an attempt to advance the ball by running around the end of the line

  6. sweepverb

    a movement in an arc

    "a sweep of his arm"

  7. brush, sweepverb

    sweep across or over

    "Her long skirt brushed the floor"; "A gasp swept cross the audience"

  8. sweep, sailverb

    move with sweeping, effortless, gliding motions

    "The diva swept into the room"; "Shreds of paper sailed through the air"; "The searchlights swept across the sky"

  9. sweep, broomverb

    sweep with a broom or as if with a broom

    "Sweep the crumbs off the table"; "Sweep under the bed"

  10. embroil, tangle, sweep, sweep up, drag, drag inverb

    force into some kind of situation, condition, or course of action

    "They were swept up by the events"; "don't drag me into this business"

  11. cross, traverse, span, sweepverb

    to cover or extend over an area or time period

    "Rivers traverse the valley floor", "The parking lot spans 3 acres"; "The novel spans three centuries"

  12. sweepverb

    clean by sweeping

    "Please sweep the floor"

  13. sweepverb

    win an overwhelming victory in or on

    "Her new show dog swept all championships"

  14. sweepverb

    cover the entire range of

  15. swing, sweep, swing outverb

    make a big sweeping gesture or movement


  1. sweepnoun

    The person who steers a dragon boat.

  2. sweepnoun

    A person who stands at the stern of a surf boat, steering with a steering oar and commanding the crew.

  3. sweepnoun

    A chimney sweep.

  4. sweepnoun

    A search (typically for bugs [electronic listening devices]).

  5. sweepnoun

    A batsman's shot, played from a kneeling position with a swinging horizontal bat.

  6. sweepnoun

    A lottery, usually on the results of a sporting event, where players win if their randomly chosen team wins.

    Jim will win fifty dollars in the office sweep if Japan wins the World Cup.

  7. sweepnoun

    A flow of water parallel to shore caused by wave action at an ocean beach or at a point or headland.

  8. sweepnoun

    A single action of sweeping.

  9. sweepverb

    To clean (a surface) by means of a stroking motion of a broom or brush.

  10. sweepverb

    To move through an (horizontal) arc or similar long stroke.

  11. sweepverb

    To search (a place) methodically.

  12. sweepverb

    To travel quickly.

  13. sweepverb

    To play a sweep shot.

  14. sweepverb

    To brush the ice in front of a moving stone, causing it to travel farther and to curl less.

  15. sweepverb

    To move something in a particular motion, as a broom

  16. sweepverb

    To win (a series) without drawing or losing any of the games in that series.

  17. sweepverb

    To defeat (a team) in a series without drawing or losing any of the games in that series.

  18. Etymology: From swapan; see also swoop.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Sweepnoun

    Etymology: from the verb.

    A door drags when by its ill hanging on its hinges, or by the ill boarding of the room the bottom edge of the door rides in its sweep upon the floor. Joseph Moxon, Mechan. Exercise.

    Lion-hearted Richard like a torrent swell’d
    With wintry tempests, that disdains all mounds,
    Breaking away impetuous, and involves
    Within its sweep, trees, houses, men. Philips.

    In countries subject to great epidemical sweeps, men may live very long, but where the proportion of the chronical distemper is great, it is not likely to be so. John Graunt.

    Having made one incision a little circularly, begin a second, bringing it with an opposite sweep to meet the other. Samuel Sharp.

  2. To Sweepverb

    Etymology: swapan , Saxon.

    What woman, having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one, doth not sweep the house, and seek diligently ’till she find it? Lu. xv. 8.

    Let frantick Talbot triumph for a while,
    And, like a peacock, sweep along his tail. William Shakespeare, H. VI.

    Though I could,
    With barefac’d power, sweep him from my sight,
    And bid my will avouch it; yet I must not. William Shakespeare.

    The river of Kishon swept them away. Judges v.

    The blustering winds striving for victory, swept the snow from off the tops of those high mountains, and cast it down unto the plains in such abundance, that the Turks lay as men buried alive. Richard Knolles, History of the Turks.

    Flying bullets now
    To execute his rage appear too slow;
    They miss or sweep but common souls away;
    For such a loss Opdam his life must pay. Edmund Waller.

    My looking is the fire of pestilence,
    That sweeps at once the people and the prince. Dryden.

    I have already swept the stakes, and with the common good fortune of prosperous gamesters can be content to sit. Dryden.

    Is this the man who drives me before him
    To the world’s ridge, and sweeps me off like rubbish? Dryd.

    Fool! time no change of motion knows;
    With equal speed the torrent flows
    To sweep fame, pow’r, and wealth away:
    The past is all by death possest,
    And frugal fate that guards the rest,
    By giving, bids them live, to day. Elijah Fenton.

    A duke holding in a great many hands, drew a huge heap of gold; but never observed a sharper, who under his arm swept a great deal of it into his hat. Jonathan Swift.

    Their long descending train
    With rubies edg’d, and sapphires swept the plain. Dryden.

    Descend ye nine; descend and sing;
    The breathing instruments inspire,
    Wake into voice each silent string,
    And sweep the sounding lyre. Alexander Pope.

  3. To Sweepverb

    Haste me to know it, that I with wings as swift
    As meditation or the thoughts of love
    May sweep to my revenge. William Shakespeare.

    A poor man that oppresseth the poor, is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food. Prov. xxviii. iii.

    Before tempestuous winds arise,
    Stars shooting through the darkness gild the night
    With sweeping glories and long trails of light. Dryden.

    She sweeps it through the court with troops of ladies,
    More like an empress than duke Humphrey’s wife. William Shakespeare.

    In gentle dreams I often will be by,
    And sweep along before your closing eye. Dryden.

    Nor always errs; for oft the gauntlet draws
    A sweeping stroke along the crackling jaws. Dryden.


  1. sweep

    Sweep refers to a comprehensive or expansive search, movement, action, or examination typically carried out systematically to cover a particular area, or range of activities. It can also refer to the act of clearing or winning all of something available such as competitions, contests, or awards. In the context of movements, it refers to a broad, continuous, or smooth motion or curve.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Sweepverb

    to pass a broom across (a surface) so as to remove loose dirt, dust, etc.; to brush, or rub over, with a broom for the purpose of cleaning; as, to sweep a floor, the street, or a chimney. Used also figuratively

  2. Sweepverb

    to drive or carry along or off with a broom or a brush, or as if with a broom; to remove by, or as if by, brushing; as, to sweep dirt from a floor; the wind sweeps the snow from the hills; a freshet sweeps away a dam, timber, or rubbish; a pestilence sweeps off multitudes

  3. Sweepverb

    to brush against or over; to rub lightly along

  4. Sweepverb

    to carry with a long, swinging, or dragging motion; hence, to carry in a stately or proud fashion

  5. Sweepverb

    to strike with a long stroke

  6. Sweepverb

    to draw or drag something over; as, to sweep the bottom of a river with a net

  7. Sweepverb

    to pass over, or traverse, with the eye or with an instrument of observation; as, to sweep the heavens with a telescope

  8. Sweepverb

    to clean rooms, yards, etc., or to clear away dust, dirt, litter, etc., with a broom, brush, or the like

  9. Sweepverb

    to brush swiftly over the surface of anything; to pass with switness and force, as if brushing the surface of anything; to move in a stately manner; as, the wind sweeps across the plain; a woman sweeps through a drawing-room

  10. Sweepverb

    to pass over anything comprehensively; to range through with rapidity; as, his eye sweeps through space

  11. Sweepnoun

    the act of sweeping

  12. Sweepnoun

    the compass or range of a stroke; as, a long sweep

  13. Sweepnoun

    the compass of any turning body or of any motion; as, the sweep of a door; the sweep of the eye

  14. Sweepnoun

    the compass of anything flowing or brushing; as, the flood carried away everything within its sweep

  15. Sweepnoun

    violent and general destruction; as, the sweep of an epidemic disease

  16. Sweepnoun

    direction and extent of any motion not rectlinear; as, the sweep of a compass

  17. Sweepnoun

    direction or departure of a curve, a road, an arch, or the like, away from a rectlinear line

  18. Sweepnoun

    one who sweeps; a sweeper; specifically, a chimney sweeper

  19. Sweepnoun

    a movable templet for making molds, in loam molding

  20. Sweepnoun

    the mold of a ship when she begins to curve in at the rungheads; any part of a ship shaped in a segment of a circle

  21. Sweepnoun

    a large oar used in small vessels, partly to propel them and partly to steer them

  22. Sweepnoun

    the almond furnace

  23. Sweepnoun

    a long pole, or piece of timber, moved on a horizontal fulcrum fixed to a tall post and used to raise and lower a bucket in a well for drawing water

  24. Sweepnoun

    in the game of casino, a pairing or combining of all the cards on the board, and so removing them all; in whist, the winning of all the tricks (thirteen) in a hand; a slam

  25. Sweepnoun

    the sweeping of workshops where precious metals are worked, containing filings, etc

  26. Etymology: [OE. swepen; akin to AS. swpan. See Swoop, v. i.]


  1. Sweep

    Sweep is a series of young adult fantasy novels written by Cate Tiernan, the first of which, Book of Shadows, was published in 2001. The series follows a teenage girl, Morgan Rowlands, who discovers she is the descendant of a long line of witches, and possesses powerful magick of her own.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Sweep

    swēp, v.t. to wipe or rub over with a brush or broom: to carry along or off by a long brushing stroke or force: to destroy or carry off at a stroke: to strike with a long stroke: to carry with pomp: to drag over: to pass rapidly over.—v.i. to pass swiftly and forcibly: to pass with pomp: to move with a long reach:—pa.t. and pa.p. swept.—n. act of sweeping: extent of a stroke, or of anything turning or in motion: prevalence, range: direction of a curve: the act of bringing into a general movement: rapid or wide-spread destructiveness: a curved approach before a building: a chimney-sweeper: (pl.) oars of great length used during a calm or in still water, either to assist the rudder or to propel the vessel.—n. Sweep′er.—adv. Sweep′ingly, in a sweeping manner.—n. Sweep′ingness.—n.pl. Sweep′ings, things collected by sweeping: rubbish.—ns. Sweep′-net, a net that embraces a large compass: Sweep′stake (Shak.), one who wins all—usually in pl. Sweep′stakes, a method of gambling by which several persons contribute each certain stakes, the whole of which fall to one in case of a certain event happening; Sweep′-wash′er, one who scrapes a little gold or silver from the sweepings of refineries.—adj. Sweep′y, swaying, sweeping, curving. [A.S. swápan; Ger. schweifen, Cf. Swoop.]

Dictionary of Nautical Terms

  1. sweep

    The trending or inclination of a coast to a crescent. Also, that part of the mould of a ship, where she begins to compass in the rung-heads. Also, a large kind of oar.--To sweep a coast. To sail along at a reasonable distance with a vigilant inspection.

Military Dictionary and Gazetteer

  1. sweep

    To clear or brush away; as, the cannon swept everything before it.

Editors Contribution

  1. sweep

    To maintain or clean with a specific type of brush.

    They did sweep the floors a few times a week.

    Submitted by MaryC on February 27, 2020  

Suggested Resources

  1. sweep

    Song lyrics by sweep -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by sweep on the Lyrics.com website.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records

  1. SWEEP

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Sweep is ranked #99378 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Sweep surname appeared 182 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 0 would have the surname Sweep.

    95% or 173 total occurrences were White.

British National Corpus

  1. Verbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'sweep' in Verbs Frequency: #552

How to pronounce sweep?

How to say sweep in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of sweep in Chaldean Numerology is: 9

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of sweep in Pythagorean Numerology is: 5

Examples of sweep in a Sentence

  1. Commonwealth Secretary William Galvin:

    My office diligently works to keep the bad actors out of the Commonwealth, ... This sweep is intended to establish how the industry is meeting this critical investor protection responsibility of keeping the rogue broker out of the industry.

  2. John Callas:

    We have and will continue to use multiple techniques in our attempts to contact the rover, these new command strategies are in addition to the sweep and beep commands we have been transmitting up to the rover since September.

  3. Marco Rubio:

    Let’s not forget that last night was supposed to be Ted Cruz’s big night. It was the night where he was going to sweep. The states were tailor made for the kind of campaign he was running. We beat him in Georgia. We beat him in half the states on the map.

  4. Robert F. Kennedy:

    It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and injustice.

  5. Ted Cruz:

    You can usually tell how dismayed he is by his volume, by the level of insults, and typically, when he attacks someone's faith, it is a sign that Donald is really worried, i understand the last election day, Super Saturday, was a very bad day for Donald. He came in proudly expecting to sweep all four contests. Instead, he got clobbered. He got clobbered on election day.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for sweep

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

Get even more translations for sweep »


Find a translation for the sweep definition in other languages:

Select another language:

  • - Select -
  • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
  • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
  • Español (Spanish)
  • Esperanto (Esperanto)
  • 日本語 (Japanese)
  • Português (Portuguese)
  • Deutsch (German)
  • العربية (Arabic)
  • Français (French)
  • Русский (Russian)
  • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
  • 한국어 (Korean)
  • עברית (Hebrew)
  • Gaeilge (Irish)
  • Українська (Ukrainian)
  • اردو (Urdu)
  • Magyar (Hungarian)
  • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
  • Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Italiano (Italian)
  • தமிழ் (Tamil)
  • Türkçe (Turkish)
  • తెలుగు (Telugu)
  • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
  • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
  • Čeština (Czech)
  • Polski (Polish)
  • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Românește (Romanian)
  • Nederlands (Dutch)
  • Ελληνικά (Greek)
  • Latinum (Latin)
  • Svenska (Swedish)
  • Dansk (Danish)
  • Suomi (Finnish)
  • فارسی (Persian)
  • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
  • հայերեն (Armenian)
  • Norsk (Norwegian)
  • English (English)

Word of the Day

Would you like us to send you a FREE new word definition delivered to your inbox daily?

Please enter your email address:


Use the citation below to add this definition to your bibliography:


"sweep." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 25 Apr. 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/sweep>.

Discuss these sweep definitions with the community:


    Are we missing a good definition for sweep? Don't keep it to yourself...

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Chrome

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Firefox

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Browse Definitions.net


    Are you a words master?

    find repugnant
    A affront
    B scarper
    C abhor
    D transpire

    Nearby & related entries:

    Alternative searches for sweep: