Definition of swarm in English:

swarm

noun

  • 1A large or dense group of flying insects.

    ‘a swarm of locusts’
    • ‘Digital noise reduction causes people's faces and clothes to crawl, as though they were covered by a swarm of small insects.’
    • ‘An epic struggle between the Genohunters and a swarm of insects continues as the screen fades to black.’
    • ‘But in October 1988 a swarm of desert locusts crossed the Atlantic traveling from Africa to the Caribbean.’
    • ‘And even if you have the good luck to be healthy, a swarm of locusts could devour your crops, a tsunami could wash away your family, or a hurricane could blow apart your town.’
    • ‘The visual effect evoked a gentle snowstorm or a swarm of insects, associations which, it must be added, the artist regards as entirely incidental.’
    • ‘The whole time he was on top of her, a swarm of tiny insects hanging over his right shoulder, she kept the woods in her peripheral vision.’
    • ‘From schools of fish to a swarm of ants, animals exhibit extraordinary collective behaviour.’
    • ‘Being dinner for a swarm of insects is nobody's idea of a good time.’
    • ‘However, the very next day they found a swarm of mature adults very near the surface off Anaa Island.’
    • ‘Yet everyone is out there mad with joy over a swarm of insects that will eat most every living plant in sight!’
    • ‘There can be up to 40 billion locusts in one swarm. During one plague in Somalia, the locusts devoured enough food to feed 400,000 people for a whole year.’
    • ‘Along the way, we remarked on the strange powdery consistency of the soil and marveled as we were surrounded by a swarm of infinitesimal white insects.’
    • ‘The Hosta had been ravaged by a swarm of ‘roly-polies,’ or pillbugs.’
    • ‘Here they lead a nomadic life, following the insect swarms which provide their principal diet.’
    • ‘With a snare of some sort in one and a swarm of buzzing insects in the other, neither of the tunnels looked inviting.’
    • ‘Chances are, you've noticed a swarm of these black-and-red insects loitering in sunny spots as the weather turns cool.’
    • ‘There was a swarm of summer insects flitting through the air in search of the food promised by the flower odors of the fatal garden.’
    1. 1.1 A large number of honeybees that leave a hive en masse with a newly fertilized queen in order to establish a new colony.
      • ‘Finally, after perhaps several days of house-hunting, one of the sites gains overwhelming favour and the swarm moves off to start a new hive there.’
      • ‘The trade and transportation of queen bees, bees are families and swarms of bees without a certificate of origin and a veterinary certificate would be prohibited under the bill.’
      • ‘Back in the US, the Pentagon has announced that it has trained honey bees to sniff out and swarm to explosives instead of flowers.’
      • ‘During summer at Shoalhaven, several new swarms left his property to set up new hives in the bush each day.’
      • ‘He explained why they swarm and how the queen is the centre of the swarm's activity.’
      • ‘In 1957 swarms of the Africanized honeybee escaped the quarantine and began to establish colonies.’
      • ‘Honey bees rarely swarm away from the hive and only sting if they are antagonised.’
      • ‘In 1990, a honey bee swarm unlike any before found in the United States was identified just outside the small south Texas town of Hidalgo.’
      • ‘As the swarms subside, mated new queens break off their wings and seek underground cavities in which to begin new colonies while the males die.’
      • ‘Prospective beekeepers need to learn only fundamental skills such as safe handling of bees while collecting honey or when swarms are being transferred to the hives.’
      • ‘When these queens mature into adults, they compete to head a new colony either by leaving with a secondary swarm or by becoming the queen in the established nest site.’
      • ‘Africanised bees typically attack in swarms that are between three and four times the size of European honey bee swarms, which causes a greater number of stings.’
      • ‘He donned a protective suit and used a brush to gather the 4,000-strong swarm into a hive box before re-housing them.’
      hive, flight, flock, covey
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2a swarm/swarms of A large number of people or things.
      ‘a swarm of journalists’
      • ‘Basso's team swarm around him like worker bees around their Queen, but they are in for a hard day in the saddle.’
      • ‘Loup shouted, and a swarm of vehicles and troops charged from the base into the Oppressor line.’
      • ‘The opening minutes saw the Trinity goal a swarm of bodies as Emmaus launched several attacks that had Trinity on the back foot.’
      • ‘Researchers say a swarm of bouncing, spherical bots the size of baseballs could hop across the red planet to search for life.’
      • ‘The crowd froze as a swarm of Steamers jerseys surged towards the Canterbury line and the clock ticked into the red a converted try was all that was needed to keep the Ranfurly Shield at home.’
      • ‘After decisively defeating a swarm of litigants claiming priority of conception he pursued a multitude of ideas and causes.’
      • ‘At times, Rheingold tries a bit too hard to buttress his cogent observations with academic theories that draw parallels between smart mobs and swarms such as ant colonies.’
      • ‘The ball broke among a swarm of backs and forwards and was met by the flying hurl of Red Brian Murphy and then the net.’
      • ‘We made our way among a swarm of bodies, until I was face to face with a woman who was sobbing uninhibitedly.’
      • ‘Viropharma stock was one of his calls during this period, and his people piled into it hugely, followed by a swarm of tag-along momentum players.’
      • ‘Electron diameters are imprecise, but not because there are swarms of micro-electron-dust, each particle of which is also a swarm of something even smaller.’
      • ‘In January she had visited Slimbridge, the bird sanctuary on the Severn in Gloucestershire, to witness the famous flights of starlings that swarm there in their tens of thousands before roosting.’
      • ‘A British aerospace company is now working on a top secret flight system which could allow a pilot to control swarms of unmanned planes from the air.’
      • ‘The users' dislike of the application is actually caused by a swarm of tiny usability annoyances.’
      • ‘It permeates our affective landscape, impressing itself upon us so thoroughly that our very corporeal existence becomes host to a swarm of signs.’
      • ‘As a swarm of new dot-com brands try to buy their way to brand recognition, clutter makes it difficult to break out, and it's easy to fritter away advertising dollars.’
      • ‘A swarm of birds hopped from the nearby rooftops and sped off into the air.’
      • ‘Air flowing into your nose carries with it a swarm of complex organic molecules that get trapped in the mucus-rich lining of the nose's inner recesses.’
      • ‘When one set of contestants comprises a swarm of tiny, highly mobile sperm and the other a few large, immotile eggs, there is a certain inevitability about the outcome.’
      • ‘Care would have to be taken to deflect the body intact rather than break it into pieces because a swarm of fragments might be more destructive than a single object.’
      crowd, multitude, horde, host, mob, gang, throng, stream, mass, body, band, army, troop, legion, flock, herd, pack, drove, sea, array, myriad, pile
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 A series of similar-sized earthquakes occurring together, typically near a volcano.
      • ‘In March last year, the region saw a so-called seismic swarm - a series of around 350 small earthquakes, centred on the bulge itself about three miles away from the South Sister.’
      • ‘The USGS has been monitoring St. Helens closely since September 23, when swarms of tiny earthquakes were first recorded.’
      • ‘The sequential character is known as an earthquake swarm, a phenomenon of periodic tremors that can continue for months or even a year before quieting.’
      • ‘So now seismologists are actually recording the swarms of the earthquake activity from the volcano.’
      • ‘The swarm of very small earthquakes was the third and largest such episode of activity since the eruption in May-August, 2003.’
      • ‘But Qamar said he was more interested in the swarm of earthquakes than worried by them.’
      • ‘Archaean and Proterozoic basement terranes are commonly dissected by swarms of Precambrian mafic dykes.’
      • ‘The Geological Survey has been monitoring St. Helens closely since last Thursday, when swarms of tiny earthquakes were first recorded.’
      • ‘Dr Gledhill said swarms of small shallow earthquakes were reasonably common in the Bay, but some of the ones in this swarm were larger than usual, making it about a once-in-a-decade event.’
      • ‘Though they are unusual, earthquake swarms have happened before in other regions of the UK.’
      • ‘Earthquake swarms in 1998 and 2001 did not result in any surface activity.’
      • ‘And then we had swarms of earthquakes, which set everybody's nerves on edge.’
      • ‘The USGS has been monitoring St. Helens closely since Sept. 23, when swarms of tiny earthquakes were first recorded.’
      • ‘Similar earthquake swarms were recorded in 1998 and 2001, but no explosion occurred in either year, Pierson said.’
      • ‘The most intense swarms of earthquakes detected in the last 10 to 12 years on the far edge of the Juan de Fuca plate could indicate the eruption of magma from the seafloor or an underwater volcano.’
      • ‘The July-August 2001 eruption at Etna was heralded by a seismic swarm initiated during the night of 12-13 July.’
      • ‘The phenomenon surprised experts, who concluded the sequence was an earthquake swarm.’
      • ‘This value indicates a behaviour strongly controlled by intense seismic swarms, rather than by isolated fracturing episodes.’
      • ‘The cause and outcome of the earthquake swarm are uncertain at this time.’
      • ‘Scientists aren't sure what causes quake swarms.’
    4. 1.4Astronomy A large number of minor celestial objects occurring together in space, especially a dense shower of meteors.
      • ‘By month's end it lies less than a degree away from the famous Beehive star cluster, which appears in binoculars as a swarm of points.’
      • ‘Since Earth is actually orbiting the Sun through a swarm of solar system debris, the answer has to be yes.’
      • ‘Any optimism is, however, tempered by the fact that - should the Shiva hypothesis be true - the next swarm of Oort Cloud comets could even now be speeding towards the inner solar system.’
      • ‘The cluster collision is the most powerful ever recorded and a fresh glimpse of the cluster merging process, where great swarms of galaxies smash into one another to form a single galactic structure.’
      • ‘He pointed out an especially thick swarm of meteors.’
      • ‘Although he was not the first astronomer to propose such a comet swarm, the as-yet unconfirmed cloud is usually known as the ‘Oort Cloud’.’

verb

[no object]
  • 1(of flying insects) move in or form a swarm.

    ‘swarming locusts’
    • ‘Insects swarm about the damp light of the street-lamps, their buzzings reflected very slightly in the bitumen below your feet.’
    • ‘One night millions of insects swarmed around my bungalow.’
    • ‘A tethered cow is occasionally discovered, smothered in ants, asphyxiated and bleeding internally from where the insects swarmed in through its ears, mouth and nose.’
    • ‘These insect swarms cause massive crop losses across the southern and central United States, costing billions of dollars annually.’
    • ‘An enormous dense cloud of the insects swarmed out of their dwelling in angry unison.’
    • ‘Flies swarmed in the kitchen, and everything was in total chaos.’
    • ‘Thousands of flies have swarmed into Kimberworth over the last few weeks causing residents to put up special fly paper to catch the insects.’
    • ‘Hungry for the sweet lining beneath the bark, the beetles have swarmed over the trees, overwhelming their normal defence mechanisms.’
    • ‘Locusts swarmed through Cairo earlier this week.’
    • ‘The moths swarm together for a moment, then disappear like candle flames going out.’
    • ‘The waters were thick and the forest lush, insect flew and swarmed about the boat; the air hung stiller.’
    • ‘More than 150 passengers were evacuated from a Virgin Voyager train travelling from Newcastle to Cardiff after the insects swarmed through a carriage.’
    • ‘Unseen insects chirped and swarmed through the sunwarmed grasses and undergrowth, the razzing of cicadas a continuous chorus in the summer air.’
    • ‘Bugs swarm around a streetlight while clouds roll across the evening sky.’
    • ‘Phase change causes the locusts to swarm over vegetation, behavior that has wreaked havoc on crops in Africa and the Middle East for centuries.’
    • ‘Yap felt the insects swarming over him, biting and stinging, scraping and clawing, and he realized he had just run out of options.’
    • ‘‘Insects swarm from the filter beds into foliage close by,’ Appleton said.’
    • ‘If there was no breeze, the insects would swarm in, although cockroaches never needed an excuse.’
    • ‘These handsome insects swarm out of holes in the ground where they have been hibernating for precisely seventeen years.’
    • ‘‘No smoking in store, sir’ he started as locusts started swarming and gathering above.’
    1. 1.1 (of honeybees, ants, or termites) issue from the nest in large numbers in order to mate and found new colonies.
      ‘the bees had swarmed and left the hive’
      • ‘By way of example, it is suggested that an insecticide is applied to sexually mature male insects so that it spreads to the rest of the population during mating and swarming.’
      • ‘Honeybees swarm, using hollows in trees which would otherwise be home to native birds or animals.’
      • ‘A gentle splash was echoed by the sounds of thousands of silver - blue things swarming the surface.’
      • ‘But for many in the South, the annual emergence of fertile, winged termites swarming furiously to scatter and search for mates isn't one of them.’
      • ‘And like wild dogs after a wounded buffalo, the ants swarmed over it, their terrible serrated jaws clamped tight or biting, biting, biting.’
      • ‘I looked around and saw Cliff waving his arms frantically, because he was being swarmed by some local bees.’
      • ‘Don't stand in any one place too long or the fire ants may swarm all over your feet.’
      • ‘A bee swarm makes for an alarming sight to the uninformed but swarming bees are not dangerous, only homeless.’
      • ‘In 1948 thousands of grasshoppers swarmed Montreal and outlying districts.’
      • ‘The word wasp almost immediately conjures up an image of hornets swarming from papery football-shaped nests, or the fierce stings of the common paper wasp.’
      • ‘Hundreds of honeybees swarm around the 3-foot-high wooden hive in the suburban backyard at 33 Kettle St.’
      • ‘A woman working at a computer company bought a piece of chocolate bread for breakfast, and after a few mouthfuls, realized that a horde of black ants was swarming all over her snack.’
      • ‘Honey suckle edged the white picket fence and roses, swarmed by busy bees filled the gardens with paths of white pebbles.’
      • ‘He had a dream that some children were poking a bee's nest with a stick and that the bees swarmed out and stung his whole body.’
      • ‘Plagues of bugs, germs and ants swarm through the pages of her books.’
      • ‘When the colonies reproduce through swarming, workers rear a number of new queens, only a few of which will ultimately head a colony.’
      • ‘During their tests, honeybees swarmed areas where explosive residue was present.’
      • ‘But strict attention has to be paid to swarm control to stop the bees ‘buzzing off’ and loss of the honey crop.’
      • ‘They will also nest and swarm in cars and other vehicles and there's nothing more annoying than getting swarmed by a billion tiny ants while driving.’
      • ‘This process is functionally equivalent to swarming in honeybees, but with a longer time scale.’
  • 2 Move somewhere in large numbers.

    ‘protesters were swarming into the building’
    • ‘And the caribou swarming around the dumpster outside my apartment building are really, really scaring me.’
    • ‘Hundreds of police in riot gear swarmed the area, pushing protesters away from the Garden and into nearby side streets.’
    • ‘Police and federal agents swarmed in on that building today as part of a joint anti-terror operation.’
    • ‘People emerged from the main station building and swarmed to the train, so we joined in as best we could.’
    • ‘When they unfurled it dozens of cops swarmed over the protesters, knocking them to the ground and arresting several.’
    • ‘VISUALISE THE scenario of over 1000 children swarming a compact building in the city and spending the whole day playing, eating and chatting.’
    • ‘With views obscured by buildings, people swarmed on to the roads and headed towards open areas, such as Lendal Bridge and Museum Gardens, blocking the path of motorists and buses.’
    • ‘Agents of the secret police swarmed among its buildings and along its thoroughfares like ‘locusts.’’
    • ‘A buzz of protest swarmed across his men, each too timid to shout over the others.’
    • ‘Hoarded up in abandoned buildings, the government swarmed around them for weeks, in an attempt to force the Kerberos to stand down.’
    • ‘Thousands of protesters swarmed the streets of Peshawar, in the north west, shouting anti-American and anti-Pakistani slogans.’
    • ‘Twenty minutes later, All the students were told to stay in their home rooms while police swarmed the building again.’
    • ‘As Katrina entered the building, everyone swarmed around her and started asking questions.’
    • ‘In what seemed like an unprecedented invasion, the ladybugs, or lady beetles, as they are also known, appeared everywhere, swarming around buildings and trees.’
    • ‘Clouds of dust and a fearful racket greeted us, and hundreds of workmen swarmed over file building.’
    • ‘U.S. forces watched but did not intervene as plunderers swarmed into several government buildings and the National Museum, the report said.’
    • ‘The market opens out into a harbour where people swarm everywhere, mending nets and building brightly coloured boats.’
    • ‘In South Florida, long lines reappeared at gas stations and shoppers swarmed home building stores and supermarkets.’
    • ‘Chaos reigned in the main entranceway as police officers swarmed into the building.’
    • ‘Orderlies and staff officers swarmed the buildings, carrying orders to the front-line troops.’
    flock, crowd, throng, stream, surge, flood, seethe, pack, crush
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1swarm with Be crowded or overrun with (moving people or things)
      ‘the place was swarming with police’
      • ‘Since the entire Italy is swarming with museums and art, the city of Florence too grounds few wonderful ones.’
      • ‘More police this morning, swarming with cameras on the other side of the street.’
      • ‘Barrio Santa Cruz, the pretty old Jewish quarter, is swarming with budget options, but this charming music-themed hotel is a cut above.’
      • ‘Today shocked residents described how they had woken to find their street swarming with police officers.’
      • ‘On the way in, the Tube was swarming with teenagers.’
      • ‘We got away from it and within minutes the place was swarming with police.’
      • ‘The police and paramilitary forces arrived and the club field swarmed with khaki-clad security personnel and curious onlookers.’
      • ‘But then Vauxhall started swarming with police and before you could work out what was going on, the roads were being closed off.’
      • ‘The rest of York is awash with shoppers swarming with mad carrier bags in the cold.’
      • ‘When he'd anxiously come into work a few days ago, he'd expected the campus to be swarmed with police.’
      • ‘The area had been converted, unsurprisingly, into a crime scene swarming with police.’
      • ‘The three - tier gallery spanning the sides of the maidan and the raised platform on the east are swarming with exercise freaks.’
      • ‘The whole area is swarming with police, as is the subway station.’
      • ‘The hallways swarmed with kids and we were both swallowed up in the crowd.’
      • ‘Edinburgh is swarming with people every year for more than one reason.’
      • ‘The vermicelli, indeed, resembled a tree swarming with ants, while it absorbed the rich sauce like a sponge.’
      • ‘The Radisson hotel is swarming with medical crews, police officers.’
      • ‘Within minutes the area was swarming with police cars and dogs and helicopters.’
      • ‘The lanes around the Daffodil Lion swarmed with police, blocking all routes to the air base which was about two-and-a-half miles away in the next valley.’
      • ‘The trash bins after a holiday weekend, rotting, swarming with flies.’
      be crowded with, be thronged with, be overrun with, be full of, abound in, be teeming with, be bristling with, bristle with, be alive with, be crawling with, be infested with, overflow with, brim with, be prolific in, be abundant in
      View synonyms

Phrasal Verbs

  • swarm up

    • Climb (something) rapidly by gripping it with one's hands and feet, alternately hauling and pushing oneself upwards.

      ‘I swarmed up the mast’
      • ‘Yes, they've seen them thick enough to swarm up in clouds from their yard and turn their white awnings grey.’
      • ‘Men began to swarm up out of the manhole cover behind me, and men erupted from covers and storm drains all over the center of the city.’
      • ‘The kids in the village are swarming up and down my road tonight, setting the dogs barking.’
      • ‘The path leads through open zones of tussocky grasses, silver birches, and woods, honeysuckle swarms up the pines.’
      • ‘The three sides are decorated with relief mouldings showing Hell, Purgatory and Paradise with people swarming up each surface.’
      • ‘One of the more grandiose images, of a crowd swarming up the mount to hear a sermon from Christ as the sun slowly sets, wasn't planned and came about purely by accident.’
      • ‘Police then moved the exercise to Stormont, swarming up to the home of the power-sharing government in a train of armoured Land Rovers.’
      • ‘Their purpose is to lay down suppressing fire, along with the field guns, which will allow the men in the boats to swarm up the hill in either direction like an army of ants.’
      • ‘They swarmed up the levelled rock blockage, pushed through the gap that Tiffany had blasted, dragging at rock that crumbled at their touch.’
      • ‘I remember this from childhood - great clouds of oversized winged insects, swarming up from the pavement cracks and the nooks and crannies in walls.’
      ascend, mount, scale, scramble up, clamber up, shin up
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Origin

Old English swearm (noun), of Germanic origin; related to German Schwarm, probably also to the base of Sanskrit svarati ‘it sounds’.

Pronunciation

swarm

/swɔːm/