swell

To swell is to expand or grow larger. If your brother's face started to swell after he ate lobster for the first time, you'd probably guess that he's allergic to shellfish.

You can use the word swell to describe what happens to an injured body part, like a black eye that swells up, or in a figurative way, to describe a feeling of fullness, like when your heart swells with pride at your sister's big music performance. In the 1930s, swell became a popular slang term meaning great or excellent. But it also can describe a wealthy, elegant person, like a group of swells at a fancy restaurant.

PRIMARY MEANINGS OF: swell

1
vn
increase in size, magnitude, number, or intensity
a rounded elevation (especially one on an ocean floor)
2
v
come up (as of feelings and thoughts, or other ephemeral things)
3
vn
come up, as of a liquid
the undulating movement of the surface of the open sea
4
adj
very good
5
n
a man who is much concerned with his dress and appearance
FULL DEFINITIONS OF: swell
1

v increase in size, magnitude, number, or intensity

“The music swelled to a crescendo”
Type of:
increase
become bigger or greater in amount

v expand abnormally

“The bellies of the starving children are swelling
Synonyms:
intumesce, swell up, tumefy, tumesce
Types:
show 5 types...
hide 5 types...
distend
swell from or as if from internal pressure
belly, belly out
swell out or bulge out
blow up, puff, puff out, puff up
to swell or cause to enlarge, "Her faced puffed up from the drugs"
bloat
become bloated or swollen or puff up
blister, vesicate
get blistered
Type of:
expand
become larger in size or volume or quantity

v cause to become swollen

“The water swells the wood”
Types:
show 4 types...
hide 4 types...
bulge, bulk
cause to bulge or swell outwards
tumefy
cause to become very swollen
bloat
make bloated or swollen
distend
cause to expand as it by internal pressure
Type of:
grow
cause to grow or develop

n a rounded elevation (especially one on an ocean floor)

Type of:
elevation, natural elevation
a raised or elevated geological formation

n a crescendo followed by a decrescendo

Type of:
crescendo
(music) a gradual increase in loudness
2

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

“Smoke swelled from it”
Synonyms:
well up
Type of:
arise, develop, grow, originate, rise, spring up, uprise
come into existence; take on form or shape

v become filled with pride, arrogance, or anger

“The mother was swelling with importance when she spoke of her son”
Synonyms:
puff up
Type of:
act, behave, do
behave in a certain manner; show a certain behavior; conduct or comport oneself
3

v come up, as of a liquid

Synonyms:
well
Type of:
come up, rise, rise up, surface
come to the surface

n the undulating movement of the surface of the open sea

Synonyms:
crestless wave
Types:
ground swell, heavy swell
a broad and deep undulation of the ocean
Type of:
moving ridge, wave
one of a series of ridges that moves across the surface of a liquid (especially across a large body of water)
4

adj very good

Synonyms:
bang-up, bully, corking, cracking, dandy, great, groovy, keen, neat, nifty, not bad, peachy, slap-up, smashing
good
having desirable or positive qualities especially those suitable for a thing specified
5

n a man who is much concerned with his dress and appearance

Synonyms:
beau, clotheshorse, dandy, dude, fashion plate, fop, gallant, sheik
Examples:
George Bryan Brummell
English dandy who was a fashion leader during the Regency (1778-1840)
Types:
cockscomb, coxcomb
a conceited dandy who is overly impressed by his own accomplishments
macaroni
a British dandy in the 18th century who affected Continental mannerisms
Type of:
adult male, man
an adult person who is male (as opposed to a woman)
WORD FAMILY
USAGE EXAMPLES