swim - definition and synonyms


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present tense
present participleswimming
past tenseswam
past participleswum
  1. 1
    [intransitive] to move through water by making movements with your arms and legs

    Pollution has made it unsafe to swim in the lake.

    Can you swim?

    1. a.
      [transitive] to swim a particular distance, or to swim in a race

      He swam 500 metres to shore.

      the first woman to swim the English Channel

    2. b.
      [transitive] to swim in a particular style

      He can swim breaststroke and backstroke.

    3. c.
      [intransitive] if fish swim, they move in water
  2. 2
    [intransitive] if your head or eyes are swimming, you cannot think or see clearly, usually because you are tired or ill
    1. a.
      if things swim, they appear to be moving, usually because you are tired or ill
See also