What does swell mean?

Definitions for swell

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

Princeton's WordNet

  1. swell, crestless wavenoun

    the undulating movement of the surface of the open sea

  2. swellnoun

    a rounded elevation (especially one on an ocean floor)

  3. swellnoun

    a crescendo followed by a decrescendo

  4. dandy, dude, fop, gallant, sheik, beau, swell, fashion plate, clotheshorseadjective

    a man who is much concerned with his dress and appearance

  5. bang-up, bully, corking, cracking, dandy, great, groovy, keen, neat, nifty, not bad(p), peachy, slap-up, swell, smashingverb

    very good

    "he did a bully job"; "a neat sports car"; "had a great time at the party"; "you look simply smashing"

  6. swellverb

    increase in size, magnitude, number, or intensity

    "The music swelled to a crescendo"

  7. swell, puff upverb

    become filled with pride, arrogance, or anger

    "The mother was swelling with importance when she spoke of her son"

  8. swell, swell up, intumesce, tumefy, tumesceverb

    expand abnormally

    "The bellies of the starving children are swelling"

  9. well up, swellverb

    come up (as of feelings and thoughts, or other ephemeral things)

    "Strong emotions welled up"; "Smoke swelled from it"

  10. well, swellverb

    come up, as of a liquid

    "Tears well in her eyes"; "the currents well up"

  11. swellverb

    cause to become swollen

    "The water swells the wood"


  1. swellnoun

    A long series of ocean waves, generally produced by wind, and lasting after the wind has ceased.

  2. swellnoun

    A gradual crescendo followed by diminuendo.

  3. swellnoun

    A device for controlling the volume of a pipe organ.

  4. swellnoun

    A division in a pipe organ, usually the largest enclosed division.

  5. swellnoun

    A hillock or similar raised area of terrain.

  6. swellnoun

    A person who is dressed in a fancy or elegant manner.

  7. swellnoun

    A person of high social standing; an important person.

  8. swellverb

    To become bigger, especially due to being engorged.

  9. swellverb

    To cause to become bigger.

  10. swelladjective


  11. Etymology: From swellen, from swellan, from swellanan, of unknown origin. Cognate with zwellen, schwellen, svälla.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Swellnoun

    Extension of bulk.

    Etymology: from the verb.

    The swan’s down-feather
    That stands upon the swell at full of tide,
    And neither way inclines. William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra.

    The king of men, swoln with pride,
    Refus’d his presents, and his prayers deny’d. Dryden.

  2. To Swellverb

    Wind, blow the earth into the sea,
    Or swell the curled waters ’bove the main. William Shakespeare.

    You who supply the ground with seeds of grain,
    And you who swell those seeds with kindly rain. Dryden.

    It is low ebb with his accuser, when such peccadillos are put to swell the charge. Francis Atterbury.

    All these miseries proceed from the same natural causes, which have usually attended kingdoms swolen with long plenty, pride, and excess Edward Hyde.

  3. To Swellv.n. participle pass. swollen.

    Etymology: swellan , Sax. swellen, Dutch.

    Propitious Tyber smooth’d his wat’ry way,
    He roll’d his river back, and pois’d he stood,
    A gentle swelling and a peaceful flood. John Dryden, Æneid.

    But strangely visited people,
    All swol’n and ulc’rous; pitiful to the eye,
    The meer despair of surgery he cures. William Shakespeare, Macbeth.

    Forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, so that their cloaths waxed not old, and their feet swelled not. Nehem. ix. 21.

    Swol’n is his breast; his inward pains encrease,
    All means are us’d, and all without success. Dryden.

    My pity hath been balm to heal their wounds,
    My mildness hath allay’d their swelling griefs. William Shakespeare.

    Here he comes, swelling like a turkey-cock. William Shakespeare.

    Peleus and Telephus exil’d and poor,
    Forget their swelling and gigantick words. Wentworth Dillon.

    This iniquity shall be as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall. Isa. xxx. 13.

    In all things else above our humble fate,
    Your equal mind yet swells not into state. Dryden.

    I will help every one from him that swelleth against him, and will set him at rest. Psalms xii. 6.

    We have made peace of enmity
    Between these swelling wrong incensed peers. William Shakespeare.

    The hearts of princes kiss obedience,
    So much they love it; but to stubborn spirits
    They swell and grow as terrible as storms. William Shakespeare.

    O for a muse of fire, that would ascend
    The brightest heaven of invention!
    A kingdom for a stage, princes to act,
    And monarchs to behold the swelling scene. William Shakespeare.

    Your youth admires
    The throws and swellings of a Roman soul,
    Cato’s bold flights, th’ extravagance of virtue. Addison.

    Immoderate valour swells into a fault. Joseph Addison, Cato.


  1. swell

    Swell refers to a gradual increase or enlargement in size, volume, or intensity. It can describe a physical phenomenon, such as the rising and falling of ocean waves, or a metaphorical concept, such as a feeling of pride or excitement that grows over time.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Swellverb

    to grow larger; to dilate or extend the exterior surface or dimensions, by matter added within, or by expansion of the inclosed substance; as, the legs swell in dropsy; a bruised part swells; a bladder swells by inflation

  2. Swellverb

    to increase in size or extent by any addition; to increase in volume or force; as, a river swells, and overflows its banks; sounds swell or diminish

  3. Swellverb

    to rise or be driven into waves or billows; to heave; as, in tempest, the ocean swells into waves

  4. Swellverb

    to be puffed up or bloated; as, to swell with pride

  5. Swellverb

    to be inflated; to belly; as, the sails swell

  6. Swellverb

    to be turgid, bombastic, or extravagant; as, swelling words; a swelling style

  7. Swellverb

    to protuberate; to bulge out; as, a cask swells in the middle

  8. Swellverb

    to be elated; to rise arrogantly

  9. Swellverb

    to grow upon the view; to become larger; to expand

  10. Swellverb

    to become larger in amount; as, many little debts added, swell to a great amount

  11. Swellverb

    to act in a pompous, ostentatious, or arrogant manner; to strut; to look big

  12. Swellverb

    to increase the size, bulk, or dimensions of; to cause to rise, dilate, or increase; as, rains and dissolving snow swell the rivers in spring; immigration swells the population

  13. Swellverb

    to aggravate; to heighten

  14. Swellverb

    to raise to arrogance; to puff up; to inflate; as, to be swelled with pride or haughtiness

  15. Swellverb

    to augment gradually in force or loudness, as the sound of a note

  16. Swellnoun

    the act of swelling

  17. Swellnoun

    gradual increase

  18. Swellnoun

    increase or augmentation in bulk; protuberance

  19. Swellnoun

    increase in height; elevation; rise

  20. Swellnoun

    increase of force, intensity, or volume of sound

  21. Swellnoun

    increase of power in style, or of rhetorical force

  22. Swellnoun

    a gradual ascent, or rounded elevation, of land; as, an extensive plain abounding with little swells

  23. Swellnoun

    a wave, or billow; especially, a succession of large waves; the roll of the sea after a storm; as, a heavy swell sets into the harbor

  24. Swellnoun

    a gradual increase and decrease of the volume of sound; the crescendo and diminuendo combined; -- generally indicated by the sign

  25. Swellnoun

    a showy, dashing person; a dandy

  26. Swelladjective

    having the characteristics of a person of rank and importance; showy; dandified; distinguished; as, a swell person; a swell neighborhood

  27. Etymology: [AS. swellan; akin to D. zwellen, OS. & OHG. swellan, G. schwellen, Icel. svella, Sw. svlla.]


  1. Swell

    Swell is an indie rock band formed in San Francisco in 1989 when David Freel and Sean Kirkpatrick decided to record an album.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Swell

    swel, v.i. to grow larger: to expand: to rise into waves: to heave: to be inflated: to bulge out: to grow louder: to be bombastic, to strut: to become elated, arrogant, or angry: to grow upon the view: to grow more violent: to grow louder, as a note.—v.t. to increase the size of: to aggravate: to increase the sound of: to raise to arrogance: to augment the sound of:—pa.p. swelled or swollen (swōln).—n. act of swelling: a bulge or protuberance: increase in size: an increase and a succeeding decrease in the volume of a tone: a gradual rise of ground: a wave or billow or succession of them in one direction, as after a storm: a distinct set of pipes in an organ, enclosed in a case furnished with movable shutters which being more or less opened by means of a pedal, produce a swell of sound: (geol.) an upward protrusion of strata from whose central region the beds dip quaquaversally at a low angle: a strutting foppish fellow, a dandy.—adj. fashionable.—n. Swell′dom, the fashionable world generally.—adj. Swell′ing (B.), inflated, proud, haughty.—n. protuberance: a tumour: a rising, as of passion: (B.) inflation by pride.—adj. Swell′ish, foppish, dandified.—ns. Swell′-mob, well-dressed pickpockets collectively; Swell′-mobs′man, a well-dressed pickpocket. [A.S. swellan; Ger. schwellen.]

Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms

  1. swell

    Ocean waves that have traveled out of their fetch. Swell characteristically exhibits a more regular and longer period and has flatter crests than waves within their fetch.

Dictionary of Nautical Terms

  1. swell

    A rolling wave which seldom breaks unless it meets resistance, generally denoting a continuous heaving, which remains for some time after the wind which caused it has subsided. Also, the gradual thickening of the muzzle of a gun, hounds of a mast, &c.

Suggested Resources

  1. swell

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

Etymology and Origins

  1. Swell

    Slang for one of the upper classes, no doubt suggested by the phrase: “The bloated aristocracy.” Also applied to an overdressed person puffed out with the idea of his own importance.

British National Corpus

  1. Verbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'swell' in Verbs Frequency: #1088

Anagrams for swell »

  1. wells

  2. Wells

How to pronounce swell?

How to say swell in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of swell in Chaldean Numerology is: 2

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of swell in Pythagorean Numerology is: 8

Examples of swell in a Sentence

  1. Nabil Majeed:

    I miss going outside in the sun. Now the sun makes my eye swell, and I always feel like something is in front of my eye.

  2. Brian Power:

    There is definitely a New Year's swell.

  3. Josh Alcorn:

    He may not have the financial resources, but there is a ground swell of support, i think having the vice president on that debate stage is an important part of the campaign.

  4. Clarence Graham:

    So 'jail, no bail' gave us an opportunity to be arrested, spend the 30 days in jail without paying the money. In so doing, it would help keep the money in our treasury and not swell the treasury of the city and the county, after that, it caught on. By summer, you had kids from all over the country filling the jailhouses up.

  5. Hannah More:

    One kernel is felt in a hogshead one drop of water helps to swell the ocean a spark of fire helps to give light to the world. None are too small, too feeble, too poor to be of service. Think of this and act.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for swell

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • انتفخArabic
  • ফোলাBengali
  • rebotir, inflar-se, unflar-se, excel·lentCatalan, Valencian
  • opuchnout, otéct, zduřet, napuchnout, naběhnout, otéciCzech
  • chwyddoWelsh
  • svulme, erigere, dønningDanish
  • Schwell, schwellen, Dünung, klasseGerman
  • ρεστία, αποθαλασσίαGreek
  • hincharse, mar de fondo, inflarse, excelenteSpanish
  • maininki, turvota, paisua, turvottaa, erinomainen, mahtavaFinnish
  • svølla upp, túsna upp, bólgna, svølpast, hovna, trútna, gerast hovin og trútin, týsna uppFaroese
  • houle, enfler, gonfler, sensass, chouetteFrench
  • sèidScottish Gaelic
  • inflarse, incharseGalician
  • mooadeeManx
  • אבבHebrew
  • dagad, duzzadHungarian
  • ուռչել, ուռելArmenian
  • (mem)[[bengkak]]Indonesian
  • intumecarIdo
  • mare di fondo, mareggiare, ingrossarsi, far gonfiare, rigonfiamento, flutti, onda lunga, gonfiarsiItalian
  • 膨れる, 隆起する, 腫れる, うねり, 起伏, 素晴らしいJapanese
  • 부풀다, 붓다, 팽창하다, 부어오르다Korean
  • tumor, intumēscō, tumeō, adaestuōLatin
  • tūkt, bangasLatvian
  • huene, āmai, tōuwha, amotai, whakaahu, tārawa, tai whakarākau, huaroaMāori
  • svulme, svelleNorwegian
  • opzwellen, aanzwellen, deining, zwellen, mieters, geweldigDutch
  • svelle, svulmeNorwegian Nynorsk
  • dønningNorwegian
  • falowanie, puchnąć, powiększać, pęczniećPolish
  • inchar, swell, excelente, ótimoPortuguese
  • punkiyQuechua
  • unflarRomansh
  • val, valuri, se umfla, minunat, super, senzaționalRomanian
  • раздува́ться, набуха́ть, увели́чиваться, отличный, превосходный, зыбьRussian
  • opuchnúťSlovak
  • dyning, svälla, svallSwedish
  • kivimbe, vimba, furaSwahili
  • บวมThai
  • kabarmaTurkish

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    the act of making something completely wet
    • A. preponderance
    • B. foumart
    • C. sousing
    • D. substrate

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