Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary



SWALLOW’S-TAIL, n. In joinery and carpentry, the same as dove-tail.

SWALLOW-STONE, n. Chelidonius lapis, a stone which Pliny and other authors affirm to be found in the stomachs of young swallows.

SWALLOW-TAIL, n. A plant, a species of willow.

SWALLOW-WORT, n. A plant of the genus Asclepias; hirundinaria. It grows in the southern part of Europe, and is said to have been successfully used as a medicine, chiefly in dropsical cases.

The African swallow-wort is of the genus Stapelia.


1. To take into the stomach; to receive through the gullet or oesophagus into the stomach; as, to swallow food or drink. Food should be well chewed before it is swallowed.

2. To absorb; to draw and sink into an abyss or gulf; to ingulf; usually followed by up. The Malstrom off the coast of Norway, it is said, will swallow up a ship.

In bogs swallow’d up and lost.

The earth opened and swallowed them up. Numbers 16:32.

3. To receive or embrace, as opinions or belief, without examination or scruple; to receive implicitly.

4. To engross; to appropriate.

Homer--has swallowed up the honor of those who succeeded him.

5. To occupy; to employ.

The necessary provision of life swallows the greatest part of their time.

6. To seize and waste.

Corruption swallow’d what the liberal hand

Of bounty scatter’d.

7. To engross; to engage completely.

The priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink; they are swallowed up of wine. Isaiah 28:7.

8. To exhaust; to consume. His expenses swallow up all his income.

SWALLOW, n. The gullet or oesophagus; the throat.

1. Voracity.

2. As much as is swallowed at once.

SWALLOWED, pp. Taken into the stomach; absorbed; received without scruple; engrossed; wasted; exhausted.

SWALLOWER, n. One who swallows; also, a glutton.

SWALLOWING, ppr. Taking into the stomach; absorbing; ingulfing; receiving implicitly; engrossing; wasting; exhausting.

SWALLOWING, n. The act of taking into the stomach or of absorbing; the act of receiving implicitly; the act of engrossing.

SWAM, pret. of swim.

SWAMP, n. Spungy land; low ground filled with water; soft wet ground. In New England, I believe this word is never applied to marsh, or the boggy land made by the overflowing of salt water, but always to low soft ground in the interior country; wet and spungy land, but not usually covered with water. This is the true meaning of the word. Swamps are often mowed. In England, the word is explained in books by boggy land, morassy or marshy ground.

SWAMP, v.t. To plunge, whelm or sink in a swamp; to plunge into difficulties inextricable.

SWAMPY, a. Consisting of swamp; like a swamp; low, wet and spungy; as swampy land.

SWAMP-ORE, n. In mineralogy, an ore of iron found in swamps and morasses; called also bog-ore, or indurated bog iron ore. Its color is a dark yellowish brown or gray; its fracture is earthy, and it contains so much phosphoric acid as to injure its tenacity.

SWAN, n. A large aquatic fowl of the genus Anas, of two varieties, the wild and the tame. The plumage is of a pure white color, and its long arching neck gives it a noble appearance.

SWANG, n. A piece of low land or green sward, liable to be covered with water. [Local in England.]

SWANSDOWN, n. A fine soft thick woolen cloth.

SWANSKIN, n. [swan and skin.] A species of flannel of a soft texture, thick and warm.

SWAP, adv. Hastily; at a snatch. [A low word and local.]

SWAP, v.t. To exchange; to barter; to swop. [See Swop.] [This word is not elegant, but common in colloquial language in America.]

SWAPE, n. A pole supported by a fulcrum on which it turns, used for raising water from a well, for churning, etc. [This Bailey spells swipe, and in N. England it is pronounced sweep, as in well-sweep.]


1. The skin of bacon. [Local.]

2. The grassy surface of land; turf; that part of the soil which is filled with the roots of grass, forming a kind of mat. When covered with green grass, it is called green sward.

SWARD, v.t. To produce sward; to cover with sward.

SWARD-CUTTER, n. An instrument for cutting sward across the ridges.

SWARDY, a. Covered with sward or grass; as swardy land.

SWARE, old pret. of swear. We now use swore.

SWARE, SCHWARE, n. A copper coin and money of account in Bremen, value one fifth of a groat, and 72 groats make a thaler, [dollar.]

SWARM, n. sworm. [L. ferveo, and boiling is very expressive of the motions of a swarm of bees. See the Verb.]

1. In a general sense, a large number or body of small animals or insects, particularly when in motion; but appropriately, a great number of honey bees which emigrate from a hive at once, and seek new lodgings under the direction of a queen; or a like body of bees united and settled permanently in a hive. The bees that leave a hive in spring, are the young bees produced in the year preceding. Exodus 8:21; Judges 14:8.

2. A swarm or multitude; particularly, a multitude of people in motion. Swarms of northern nations overran the south of Europe in the fifth century.

Note.--The application of this word to inanimate things, as swarms of advantages, by Shakespeare, and swarms of themes, by Young, is not legitimate, for the essence of the word is motion.

SWARM, v.i. sworm.

1. To collect and depart from a hive by flight in a body, as bees. Bees swarm in warm, clear days in summer.

2. To appear or collect in a crowd; to run; to throng together; to congregate in a multitude.

In crowds around the swarming people join.

3. To be crowded; to be thronged with a multitude of animals in motion. The forests in America often swarm with wild pigeons. The northern seas in spring swarm with herrings.

Every place swarms with soldiers.

[Such phrases as “life swarms with ills,” “those days swarmed with fables,” are not legitimate, or wholly obsolete.]

4. To breed multitudes.

5. To climb, as a tree, by embracing it with the arms and legs, and scrambling.

At the top was placed a piece of money, as a prize for those who could swarm up and seize it.

Note.--This, by the common people in New England, is pronounced squirm or squurm, and it is evidently formed on worm, indicating that worm and warm, on which swarm and squirm are formed, are radically the same word. The primary sense is to bend, wind, twist, as a worm, or a swarm of bees. It may be formed on the foot of veer, vary.

SWARM, v.t. To crowd or throng. [Not in use.]

SWART, SWARTH, a. swort, sworth.

1. Being of a dark hue; moderately black; tawny.

A nation strange with visage swart.

[I believe swart and swarth are never used in the United States, certainly not in New England. Swarthy is a common word.]

2. Gloomy; malignant. [Not in use.]

SWART, v.t. To make tawny.

SWARTH, SWAIRTH, n. An apparition. [Not used in New England.]

SWARTHILY, adv. [from swarthy.] Duskily; with a tawny hue.

SWARTHINESS, n. Tawniness; a dusky or dark complexion.

SWARTHY, a. [See Swart.] Being of a dark hue or dusky complexion; tawny. In warm climates, the complexion of men is universally swarthy or black. The Moors, Spaniards and Italians are more swarthy than the French, Germans and English.

Their swarthy hosts would darken all our plains.

1. Black; as the swarthy African.

SWARTINESS, n. A tawny color.

SWARTISH, a. Somewhat dark or tawny.

SWARTY, a. Swarthy; tawny.

SWARVE, v.i. To swerve. [Not in use.]

SWASH, n. An oval figure, whose moldings are oblique to the axis of the work. [A cant word.]

SWASH, n. A blustering noise; a vaporing. [Not in use or vulgar.]

1. Impulse of water flowing with violence. In the southern states of America, swash or swosh is a name given to a narrow sound or channel of water lying within a sand bank, or between that and the shore. Many such are found on the shores of the Carolinas.

SWASH, v.i. To bluster; to make a great noise; to vapor or brag. [Not in use.]
SWASH, SWASHY, a. Soft, like fruit too ripe. [Local.]

SWASH-BUCKLER, n. A sword-player; a bully or braggadocio. [Not in use.]

SWASHER, n. One who makes a blustering show of valor or force of arms. [Not in use.]

SWAT, SWATE, v.i. To sweat.

SWATCH, n. A swath. [Not in use.]

SWATH, n. swoth.

1. A line of grass or grain cut and thrown together by the sythe in mowing or cradling.

2. The whole breadth or sweep of a sythe in mowing or cradling; as a wide swath.

3. A band or fillet. They wrapped me in a hundred yards of swath.

SWATHE, v.t. To bind with a band, bandage or rollers; as, to swathe a child.

1. To bind or wrap.

Their children are never swathed or bound about with any thing when first born.

SWAY, v.t.

1. To move or wave; to wield with the hand; as, to sway the scepter.

2. To bias; to cause to lean or incline to one side. Let not temporal advantages sway you from the line of duty. The king was swayed by his council from the course he intended to pursue.

As bowls run true by being made

On purpose false, and to be sway’d.

3. To rule; to govern; to influence or direct by power and authority, or by moral force.

This was the race

To sway the world, and land and sea subdue.

She could not sway her house.

Take heed lest passion sway

Thy judgment to do aught which else free will

Would not admit.

SWAY, v.i. To be drawn to one side by weight; to lean. A wall sways to the west.

The balance sways on our part.

[This sense seems to indicate that this word and swag, are radically one.]

1. To have weight or influence.

The example of sundry churches--doth sway much.

2. To bear rule; to govern.

Had’st thou sway’d as kings should do--

3. In seamen’s language, to hoist, particularly applied to the lower yards and to the topmast yards, etc.

SWAY, n. The swing or sweep of a weapon.

To strike with huge two-handed sway.

1. Any thing moving with bulk and power.

Are not you mov’d when all the sway of earth.

Shakes like a thing unfirm?

2. Preponderation; turn or cast of balance.


When to advance, or stand, or turn the sway of battle.

3. Power exerted in governing; rule; dominion; control.

When vice prevails and impious men bear sway,

The post of honor is a private station.

4. Influence; weight or authority that inclines to one side; as the sway of desires. All the world is subject to the sway of fashion.

SWAYED, pp. Wielded; inclined to one side; ruled; governed; influenced; biased.

SWAYING, ppr. Wielding; causing to lean; biasing; ruling.

SWAYING, n. Swaying of the back, among beasts, is a kind of lumbago, caused by a fall or by being overloaded.

SWEAL, v.i.

1. To melt and run down, as the tallow of a candle; to waste away without feeding the flame.

2. To blaze away.

SWEALING, ppr. Melting and wasting away.

SWEAR, v.i. pret. swore. [Eng. veer; L. assevero.]

1. To affirm or utter a solemn declaration, with an appeal to God for the truth of what is affirmed.

Ye shall not swear by my name falsely. Leviticus 19:12.

But I say unto you, swear not at all. Matthew 5:34.

2. To promise upon oath.

Jacob said, swear to me this day; and he swore to him. Genesis 25:33.

3. To give evidence an oath; as, to swear to the truth of a statement. He swore that the prisoner was not present at the riot.

4. To be profane; to practice profaneness.

Certain classes of men are accustomed to swear. For men to swear is sinful, disreputable and odious; but for females or ladies to swear, appears more abominable and scandalous.

SWEAR, v.t. To utter or affirm with a solemn appeal to God for the truth of the declaration; as, to swear on oath. [This seems to have been the primitive use of swear; that is, to affirm.]

1. To put to an oath; to cause to take an oath; as, to swear witnesses in court; to swear a jury; the witness has been sworn; the judges are sworn into office.

2. To declare or charge upon oath; as, to swear treason against a man.

3. To obtest by an oath.

Now by Apollo, king, thou swear’st thy gods in vain.

To swear the peace against one, to make oath that one is under the actual fear of death or bodily harm from the person; in which case the person must find sureties of the peace.

SWEARER, n. One who swears; one who calls God to witness for the truth of his declaration.

1. A profane person.

Then the liars and swearers are fools.

SWEARING, ppr. Affirming upon oath; uttering a declaration, with an appeal to God for the truth of it.

1. Putting upon oath; causing to swear.

SWEARING, n. The act or practice of affirming on oath. Swearing in court is lawful.

1. Profaneness. All swearing not required by some law, or in conformity with law, is criminal. False swearing or perjury is a crime of a deep dye.

SWEAT, n. swet. [L. sudor.]

1. The fluid or sensible moisture which issues out of the pores of the skin of an animal.

In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread. Genesis 3:19.

2. Labor; toil; drudgery.

3. Moisture evacuated from any substance; as the sweat of hay or grain in a mow or stack.

SWEAT, v.i. swet. pret. and pp. sweat or sweated. Swot is obsolete. [L. sudo.]

1. To emit sensible moisture through the pores of the skin; to perspire. Horses sweat; oxen sweat little or not at all.

2. To toil; to labor; to drudge.

He’d have the poets sweat.

3. To emit moisture, as green plants in a heap.

SWEAT, v.t. swet. To emit or suffer to flow from the pores; to exsude.

For him the rich Arabia sweats her gums.

1. To cause to emit moisture from the pores of the skin. His physicians attempted to sweat him by the most powerful sudorifics.

They sweat him profusely.

SWEATER, n. One that causes to sweat.

SWEATINESS, n. The state of being sweaty or moist with sweat.

SWEATING, ppr. Emitting moisture from the pores of the skin; throwing our moisture; exuding.

1. Causing to emit moisture upon the skin.

SWEATING-BATH, n. A sudatory; a bath for exciting sensible perspiration or sweat; a hypocaust or stove.

SWEATING-HOUSE, n. A house for sweating persons in sickness.

SWEATING-IRON, n. A kind of knife or a piece of a sythe, used to scrape off sweat from horses.

SWEATING-ROOM, n. A room for sweating persons.

1. In rural economy, a room for sweating cheese and carrying off the superfluous juices.

SWEATING-SICKNESS, n. A febril epidemic disease which prevailed in some countries of Europe, but particularly in England, in the 15th and 16th centuries. Its first appearance was in the army of the earl of Richmond, afterward Henry VII on his landing at Milford haven, in 1485. The invasion of the disease was sudden, and usually marked by a local affection producing the sensation of intense heat, afterwards diffusing itself over the whole body, and immediately followed by profuse sweating, which continued through the whole course of the disease or till death, which often happened in a few hours.

SWEATY, a. Moist with sweat; as a sweaty skin; a sweaty garment.

1. Consisting of sweat.

No noisy whiffs or sweaty streams.

2. Laborious; toilsome; as the sweaty forge.

SWEDE, n. A native of Sweden.

1. A Swedish turnep.

SWEDISH, a. Pertaining to Sweden.

SWEDISH-TURNEP, n. The ruta baga, a hard sort of turnep, of two kinds, the white and the yellow. The latter is most valued.

SWEEP, v.t. pret. and pp. swept.

1. To brush or rub over with a brush, broom or besom, for removing loose dirt; to clean by brushing; as, to sweep a chimney or a floor. When we say, to sweep a room, we mean, to sweep the floor of the room; and to sweep the house, is to sweep the floors of the house.

2. To carry with a long swinging or dragging motion; to carry with pomp.

And like a peacock, sweep along his tail.

3. To drive or carry along or off by a long brushing stroke or force, or by flowing on the earth. Thus the wind sweeps the snow from the tops of the hills; a river sweeps away a dam, timber or rubbish; a flood sweeps away a bridge or a house. Hence,

4. To drive, destroy or carry off many at a stroke, or with celerity and violence; as, a pestilence sweeps off multitudes in a few days. The conflagration swept away whole streets of houses.

I have already swept the stakes.

5. To rub over.

Their long descending train,

With rubies edg’d and sapphires, swept the plain.

6. To strike with a long stroke.

Wake into voice each silent string,

And sweep the sounding lyre.

7. To draw or drag over; as, to sweep the bottom of a river with a net, or with the bight of a rope, to hook an anchor.

SWEEP, v.i. To pass with swiftness and violence, as something broad or brushing the surface of any thing; as a sweeping rain; a sweeping flood. A fowl that flies near the surface of land or water, is said to sweep along near the surface.

1. To pass over or brush along with celerity and force; as, the wind sweeps along the plain.

2. To pass with pomp; as, a person sweeps along with a trail.

She sweeps it through the court with troops of ladies.

3. To move with a long reach; as a sweeping stroke.

SWEEP, n. The act of sweeping.

1. The compass of a stroke; as a long sweep.

2. The compass of any turning body or motion; as the sweep of a door.

3. The compass of any thing flowing or brushing; as, the flood carried away every thing within its sweep.

4. Violent and general destruction; as the sweep of an epidemic disease.

5. Direction of any motion not rectilinear; as the sweep of a compass.

6. The mold of a ship when she begins to compass in, at the rung heads; also, any part of a ship shaped by the segment of a circle; as a floor-sweep; a back-sweep, etc.

7. Among refiners of metals, the almost-furnace.

8. Among seamen, a large oar, used to assist the rudder in turning a ship in a calm, or to increase her velocity in a chase, etc.

Sweep of the tiller, a circular frame on which the tiller traverses in large ships.

SWEEPER, n. One that sweeps.

SWEEPING, ppr. Brushing over; rubbing with a broom or besom; cleaning with a broom or besom; brushing along; passing over; dragging over.

SWEEPINGS, n. plu. Things collected by sweeping; rubbish. The sweepings of streets are often used as manure.

SWEEP-NET, n. [sweep and net.] A large net for drawing over a large compass.

SWEEPSTAKE, n. [sweep and stake.] A man that wins all; usually sweepstakes.

SWEEPY, a. Passing with speed and violence over a great compass at once.

The branches bend before their sweepy sway.

1. Strutting.

2. Wavy.

SWEET, a. [L. suavis.]

1. Agreeable or grateful to the taste; as, sugar or honey is sweet.

2. Pleasing to the smell; fragrant; as a sweet rose; sweet odor; sweet incense. Exodus 25:6.

3. Pleasing to the ear; soft; melodious; harmonious; as the sweet notes of a flute or an organ; sweet music; a sweet voice.

4. Pleasing to the eye; beautiful; as a sweet face; a sweet color or complexion; a sweet form.

5. Fresh; not salt; as sweet water.

6. Not sour; as sweet fruits; sweet oranges.

7. Mild; soft; gentle.

Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades? Job 38:31.

8. Mild; soft; kind; obliging; as sweet manners.

9. Grateful; pleasing.

Sweet interchange of hill and valley.

10. Making soft or excellent music; as a sweet singer.

11. Not stale; as sweet butter. The bread is sweet.

12. Not turned; not sour; as sweet milk.

13. Not putrescent or putrid; as, the meat is sweet.

SWEET, n. Something pleasing or grateful to the mind; as the sweets of domestic life.

A little bitter mingled in our cup, leaves no relish of the sweet.

1. A sweet substance; particularly, any vegetable juice which is added to wines to improve them.

2. A perfume.

3. A word of endearment.

4. Cane juice, melasses, or other sweet vegetable substance.

SWEET-APPLE, n. [sweet and apple.] The Annona squamosa.

SWEET-BREAD, n. [sweet and bread.] The pancreas of a calf.

SWEET-BRIAR, n. [sweet and briar.] A shrubby plant of the genus Rosa, cultivated for its fragrant smell.

SWEET-BROOM, n. [sweet and broom.] A plant.

SWEET-CICELY, n. A plant of the genus Scandix.

SWEET-CICTUS, n. A shrub, the gumcistus.

SWEET-CORN, n. A variety of the maiz, of a sweet taste.

SWEET-FLAG, n. A plant of the genus Acorus.

SWEET-GUM, n. A tree of the genus Liquidambar.

SWEET-JOHNS, n. A plant, a species of Dianthus.

SWEET-MAUDLIN, n. A species of Achillea.

SWEET-MARJORAM, n. A very fragrant plant, of the genus Origanum.

SWEET-PEA, n. A pea cultivated for ornament, of the genus Lathyrus.

SWEET-ROOT, n. The liquorice, or Glycyrrhiza.

SWEET-RUSH, n. Another name of the sweet-flag, a species of Acorus.

SWEEP-SOP, n. A name of the Annona squamosa.

SWEET-SULTAN, n. A plant, a species of Centaurea.

SWEET-WEED, n. A plant of the genus Capraria, and another of the genus Scoparia.

SWEET-WILLIAM, n. The name of several species of pink, of the genus Dianthus.

The Dianthus barbatus, a species of pink of many varieties.

SWEET-WILLOW, n. A plant, the Myrica gale, or Dutch myrtle.

SWEET-WOOD, n. A plant, a species of Laurus.

SWEETEN, v.t. swee’tn. To make sweet; as, to sweeten tea or coffee.

1. To make pleasing or grateful to the mind; as, to sweeten life; to sweeten friendship.

2. To make mild or kind; as, to sweeten the temper.

3. To make less painful; as, to sweeten the cares of life.

4. To increase agreeable qualities; as, to sweeten the joys or pleasures of life.

5. To soften; to make delicate.

Corregio has made his name immortal by the strength he has given to his figures, and by sweetening his lights and shades.

6. To make pure and salubrious by destroying noxious matter; as, to sweeten rooms or apartments that have been infected; to sweeten the air.

7. To make warm and fertile; as, to dry and sweeten soils.

8. To restore to purity; as, to sweeten water, butter or meat.

SWEETEN, v.i. swee’tn. To become sweet.

SWEETENED, pp. Made sweet, mild or grateful.

SWEETENER, n. He or that which sweetens; he that palliates; that which moderates acrimony.

SWEETENING, ppr. Making sweet or grateful.

SWEET-HEART, n. A lover or mistress.

SWEETING, n. A sweet apple.

1. A word of endearment.

SWEETISH, a. Somewhat sweet or grateful to the taste.

SWEETISHNESS, n. The quality of being sweetish.

SWEETLY, adv. In a sweet manner; gratefully; agreeable.

He sweetly temper’d awe.

No poet ever sweetly sung,

Unless he was, like Phoebus, young.

SWEETMEAT, n. [sweet and meat.] Fruit preserved with sugar; as peaches, pears, melons, nuts, orange peel, and the like.

SWEETNESS, n. The quality of being sweet, in any of its senses; as gratefulness to the taste; or to the smell, fragrance; agreeableness to the ear, melody; as sweetness of the voice; sweetness of elocution.

1. Agreeableness of manners; softness; mildness; obliging civility; as sweetness of behavior.

2. Softness; mildness; amiableness; as sweetness of temper.

SWEET-SCENTED, a. [sweet and scent.] Having a sweet smell; fragrant.