• (British) IPA: /ˈswɒləʊ/
  • (America) IPA: /ˈswɑloʊ/

swallow (swallows, present participle swallowing; past and past participle swallowed)

  1. (transitive) To cause (food, drink etc.) to pass from the mouth into the stomach; to take into the stomach through the throat. [from 11th c.]
    • 1898, J. Meade Falkner, Moonfleet Chapter 4:
      What the liquor was I do not know, but it was not so strong but that I could swallow it in great gulps and found it less burning than my burning throat.
    • 2011, Jonathan Jones, The Guardian, 21 Apr 2011:
      Clothes are to be worn and food is to be swallowed: they remain trapped in the physical world.
  2. (transitive) To take (something) in so that it disappears; to consume, absorb. [from 13th c.]
    • a. 1705, John Locke, “Of the Conduct of the Understanding”, in Posthumous Works of Mr. John Locke: […], London: […] A[wnsham] and J[ohn] Churchill, […], published 1706, OCLC 6963663 ↗:
      The necessary provision of the life swallows the greatest part of their time.
    • 2010, "What are the wild waves saying", The Economist, 28 Oct 2010:
      His body, like so many others swallowed by the ocean’s hungry maw, was never found.
  3. (intransitive) To take food down into the stomach; to make the muscular contractions of the oesophagus to achieve this, often taken as a sign of nervousness or strong emotion. [from 18th c.]
    My throat was so sore that I was unable to swallow.
  4. (transitive) To accept easily or without questions; to believe, accept. [from 16th c.]
    • Though that story […] be not so readily swallowed.
    • 2011, Madeleine Bunting, The Guardian, 22 Apr 2011:
      Americans swallowed his tale because they wanted to.
  5. (intransitive) To engross; to appropriate; usually with up.
    • 1715, Homer; [Alexander] Pope, transl., “Book preface”, in The Iliad of Homer, volume I, London: Printed by W[illiam] Bowyer, for Bernard Lintott between the Temple-Gates, OCLC 670734254 ↗:
  6. (transitive) To retract; to recant.
    to swallow one's opinions
    • c. 1603–1604, William Shakespeare, “Measvre for Measure”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act III, scene i]:
      Left her in her tears, and dried not one of them with his comfort; swallowed his vows whole
  7. (transitive) To put up with; to bear patiently or without retaliation.
    to swallow an affront or insult
Synonyms Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Noun


  1. (archaic) A deep chasm or abyss in the earth.
  2. The amount swallowed in one gulp; the act of swallowing.
    He took the aspirin with a single swallow of water.
  3. (Nigeria) Any of various carbohydrate-based dishes that are swallowed without much chewing.
  • Portuguese: gole, engolida
  • Russian: глото́к

swallow (plural swallows)

  1. A small, migratory bird of the Hirundinidae family with long, pointed, moon-shaped wings and a forked tail which feeds on the wing by catching insects.
  2. (nautical) The aperture in a block through which the rope reeves.
Synonyms Related terms
  • (bird of Hirundinidae) martlet (type of feetless bird in heraldry)
Proper noun
  1. Surname

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