Definition of swear in English:



  • 1[reporting verb] Make a solemn statement or promise undertaking to do something or affirming that something is the case.

    [with clause] ‘Maria made me swear I would never tell anyone’
    ‘I swear by all I hold dear that I had nothing to do with it’
    [with direct speech] ‘‘Never again,’ she swore, ‘will I be short of money’’
    [with object] ‘they were reluctant to swear allegiance’
    • ‘The MacDonalds were regarded as extreme supporters of the former Catholic regime of James I who had failed to swear allegiance to the new King William on time.’
    • ‘The judge has no interest in the result and has sworn or affirmed an obligation to give justice according to law.’
    • ‘The bill is being sponsored by ultra-orthodox Jewish political groups in the wake of claims that hundreds of soldiers in the Israeli army have sworn allegiance to the state on the New Testament.’
    • ‘This is not the country I agreed to support when I swore my allegiance to the Republic, and dedicated my life to its defense.’
    • ‘I do solemnly swear that I will obey all laws commands and dictates of our leader - for he has lovely teeth.’
    • ‘Every local politician thereafter swore allegiance to saving neighbourhoods, as though Noreen and her friends had just given voice to the obvious.’
    • ‘Let's forget he had sworn allegiance to Queen Victoria en-route to Oz and fought an odd battle or two for the Poms on the way.’
    • ‘They have not earned our trust, or sworn allegiance to us.’
    • ‘I pretended to be interested - I even learnt the names of some of the players, and eventually was forced to swear allegiance to a team.’
    • ‘Desmond's behaviour has embarrassed the Tory party, to whom he has sworn allegiance.’
    • ‘In democratic and successful societies, men and women do not swear allegiance to malcontents and murderers; they turn their hearts and labor to building better lives.’
    • ‘Serebin has no army to enlist in, no state to swear allegiance to, no cause to fight for.’
    • ‘We were told we could choose to say swear or affirm at one point yet no alternative was given for the last line, which is ‘so help me God’.’
    • ‘Amanullah and Khan swear allegiance to Karzai's government, but both often act in their own interests.’
    • ‘Hidden in the forest, Von Rothbart had secretly overheard Siegfried's promise, and he swore he would stop this love.’
    • ‘He might curse the existence of the January transfer window, but should instead swear allegiance to it.’
    • ‘Zainal and his followers had to swear allegiance to Sungkar and Bashir and accept their leadership over the community in Australia.’
    • ‘Their loyalty was to God; they could not swear allegiance to any temporal state.’
    • ‘While all the main UK banks swear passionate allegiance to the very British concept of free while in credit banking, costs are inching up on several fronts.’
    • ‘But it's okay, we're allowed to live to excess this week, since on Friday night we will swear allegiance to a new, healthy regime.’
    insist, avow, be emphatic, pronounce, declare, assert, maintain, contend, aver, emphasize, stress
    invoke, appeal to, call as one's witness
    promise, vow, promise under oath, solemnly promise, pledge oneself, give one's word, take an oath, swear an oath, swear on the bible, give an undertaking, undertake, affirm, warrant, state, assert, declare, aver, proclaim, pronounce, profess, attest, guarantee
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[with object]Take (an oath)
      ‘he forced them to swear an oath of loyalty to him’
      • ‘She's as aware as anyone that the lusty thoughts she inspires are the foundation of her celebrity, yet she's sworn an oath never to show her naughty bits in movies.’
      • ‘There were no photographs or transcripts of the testimony, and the two men would not agree to swear an oath, conditions George Bush defended.’
      • ‘Anybody who wants to considered a freeman must swear an oath of loyalty.’
      • ‘Many have pointed out the absurdity of asking new citizens to swear an oath to the Queen, when a large number of citizens born here would probably refuse to do the same.’
      • ‘Spike Milligan was born in India yet denied a British passport because, although he had served and risked his life for King and country, he refused to swear the oath of allegiance.’
      • ‘Kingston's mayor will attend the ceremonies and new citizens will swear the oath of allegiance and make a pledge of citizenship before being given a British nationality certificate.’
      • ‘You stood there with your hand on the bible and swore an oath.’
      • ‘On 20 January 2001, George W Bush swore the oath of office as the 43rd President of the US.’
      • ‘The oath sworn by new citizens remains the source of some bitterness among traditionalists north of the Border, who claim it ignores Scotland's unique history.’
      • ‘To start the renunciation procedure, you have to be outside of the United States and swear your oath of renunciation to a U.S. consular officer.’
      • ‘They will swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen, and pledge to respect the UK's laws, rights and freedoms.’
      • ‘Once there, frightened of Injun Joe, they decided to swear an oath that they won't tell anyone what they just witnessed.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, he could have discussed his devotion to the Constitution from some perspective other than the fact that he'd sworn an oath.’
      • ‘He swore a pledge of fidelity, not an easy thing for him.’
      • ‘Speaking in Commercial Radio's Tea Cup in a Storm, Leung stressed that should he swear an oath, he would do so with dignity.’
      • ‘They swore an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States.’
      • ‘Among them the fact that it was the judge and jury who swore an oath to render a true and just decision.’
      • ‘Radical plans to require immigrants to swear an oath of allegiance to Britain were yesterday unveiled by the inquiry into the summer riots in Bradford, Oldham and Burnley.’
      • ‘And if my democratically-elected MP fails to swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen, why will they be barred from entering Parliament to represent me?’
      • ‘That decision caused uproar as the MPs refuse to swear the oath of allegiance to the queen, meaning they cannot take their seats, speak in debates or vote.’
    2. 1.2[with object]Take a solemn oath as to the truth of (a statement)
      ‘I asked him if he would swear a statement to this effect’
      • ‘The appellant's solicitor swore an affidavit as to why the witnesses were not called at the trial.’
      • ‘The worker is the Commissioner that swore the declaration.’
      • ‘Do you swear the testimony you're about to give before this subcommittee is the truth, the whole truth and nothing about the truth, so help you God?’
      • ‘The Attorney General provided sworn affidavits from pharmacy directors and purchasers at hospitals in Harris, Dallas and Grayson counties.’
      • ‘If the child's mother agrees, the father may become a guardian by swearing a joint declaration with the mother.’
      • ‘Do you swear the testimony you will give today will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?’
      • ‘Ms. Bauer earns an annual income of approximately $77, 902 according to her financial statement sworn a week before trial.’
      • ‘If both parents agree, the father may become a joint guardian by swearing a joint declaration.’
      • ‘Nowadays, an unmarried father may become joint guardian of his children by swearing a statutory declaration.’
      • ‘Notwithstanding this claim, Solhi testified on cross-examination that he swore his affidavit on behalf of all the respondents.’
      • ‘If the parents swear a statutory declaration, the only record of the procedure is the document itself, which may be lost or destroyed, by accident or deliberately.’
      • ‘Finally, a member of defence counsel's staff swore an affidavit in which she deposed.’
      • ‘In future, all directors will have to swear a statement that they are satisfied that the company has obeyed all reporting and auditing regulations.’
      • ‘In support of this development project, affidavits were sworn concerning the lot calculations.’
      • ‘All you have to do is swear a statutory declaration in front of a judge and that's it.’
      • ‘Did you have a copy of that statement at the time you swore this affidavit?’
      • ‘The solicitor in question has also sworn an affidavit on 21 September 2004.’
      • ‘People swear statutory declarations about all sorts of things.’
      • ‘He swore a statutory declaration 26 March 1993 to say the companies were being deregistered.’
      • ‘The claimant's solicitor had sworn an affidavit in which she explained the difficulties that her firm was encountering in trying to ascertain the defendant's whereabouts.’
    3. 1.3[with object]Make (someone) promise to observe a certain course of action.
      ‘I've been sworn to secrecy’
      • ‘There's a great deal more that I wish could say, but I am sworn to secrecy.’
      • ‘It is not to be allowed that any son of a burgess sit down or remain at a common council of the town if he is not sworn to conceal the counsel and secrets of the town.’
      • ‘I wish I could tell you more but I am sworn to secrecy.’
      • ‘When we see fellow officers die, we have someone very close to us die doing something that we're sworn to do as well.’
      • ‘It is the kind of thing you're sworn to secrecy over.’
      • ‘After all, these millions belong to the stockholders, and board members are sworn to protect their money.’
      • ‘He's sworn to keep his vigil for ‘as long as it takes’.’
      • ‘Okay, I'll tell you, but you are severely sworn to secrecy.’
      • ‘I didn't say anything, as I am sworn to both of their confidences.’
      • ‘All the boys are sworn to secrecy and won't divulge anything to me.’
      • ‘I have a great deal of power over them, but, like one of those comic-book heroines, I am sworn to use it only for good.’
      • ‘The heir to the throne you are sworn to may be in danger, and you will do nothing?’
      • ‘She is sworn to secrecy about which major character dies.’
      • ‘It's odd that his mother works for the corporation his father is sworn to take down, yet neither of them cares to know or catches on.’
      • ‘Dear readers, I wish I could reveal more but I am sworn to secrecy.’
      • ‘She was sworn to look after me, an honourbond, but she also had to find you.’
      • ‘We were all sworn to secrecy, and even if you did retire like Mr. Huang did, you had to be somehow connected to Area 51.’
      • ‘I am sworn to fulfill my mandate to serve as president.’
      • ‘Wonderful news was imparted, but only on the understanding that he was sworn to secrecy.’
      • ‘Though he is sworn to secrecy, Larry, stricken with guilt over offending a friend, spills the beans.’
  • 2[no object] Use offensive language, especially as an expression of anger.

    ‘Peter swore under his breath’
    • ‘Actually your average policeman already has the power to arrest you on the flimsiest of pretexts, from jay-walking to swearing at him.’
    • ‘They were calling him names and swearing at him.’
    • ‘Sometimes he would call them into his office to tell them off and, after shouting and swearing at them, would begin touching them while they cried in terror, the jury heard.’
    • ‘Last week's session ended up in mayhem, with deputies expelled and the rest hurling insults and swearing at each other.’
    • ‘Anyway, we all had fun and left with a strong urge to swear excessively and use offensive and completely inappropriate analogies.’
    • ‘I get offended, and upset, by children running around, out of control, by their mothers shouting at them, smacking them or swearing at them, should I call for a ban on that too?’
    • ‘But the main problem is noise nuisance from large gatherings of youths, with some shouting abuse at passers-by or swearing at them.’
    • ‘She says incidents of a staff member swearing at patients have gone without any disciplinary action.’
    • ‘All those the Evening Press spoke to said they were surprised that any MP would think about swearing at a voter, no matter what their political persuasion.’
    • ‘Yesterday the irate father of one of the alleged victims was in court, cursing and swearing at the accused.’
    • ‘But he hates bad language and he can't stand people swearing at him.’
    • ‘You have to be there to appreciate fully the effect of an old grey poet and a big grey cat swearing at one another in a language mix that's far from suitable for polite company.’
    • ‘Get your hormones under control and remember that all the anger you are pointing at your fellow posters is about as productive as swearing at yourself in the mirror.’
    • ‘In April he was fined after swearing at a match official.’
    • ‘Mr Cooper alleges the police had continually failed to respond to calls from him about youths pressing the buzzer to his flat, banging on his windows and swearing at him from outside.’
    • ‘Nearly everything you wanted to know about bad language, swearing, cursing, foul-mouthed expression - you get the picture - is here.’
    • ‘Damn it was the mildest thing that came to mind as he pressed the answer button, mentally cursing and swearing at the distraction from his work.’
    • ‘Intersting that 10% of people think the word God is swearing or very offensive language.’
    • ‘A frustrated Ord was then ordered to leave the visitors' dugout and squirted the referee with a water bottle before swearing at young supporters on his way to the changing-room.’
    • ‘Dent started to walk away, but was arrested after swearing at police. He had already been fined for two other drunken episodes in April.’
    bad language, foul language, strong language
    profanity, obscenity, cursing, blaspheming, blasphemy, vilification, imprecation, curses, oaths, expletives, swear words, profanities, insults
    cussing, effing and blinding, four-letter words
    curse, blaspheme, utter profanities, utter oaths, be foul-mouthed, use bad language, use foul language, be blasphemous, take the lord's name in vain, swear like a trooper, damn
    View synonyms


  • swear blind (or north americanswear up and down)

    • informal Affirm something emphatically.

      ‘his informant swore blind that the weapons were still there’
      • ‘From personal experience, every single one of my male and female friends who swore up and down that they'd never have children is now raising at least one kid, if not two.’
      • ‘It falls into the category of ‘edgy’ family movies, where the kids swore up and down and some violence was to be had.’
      • ‘In fact, she swore up and down that she didn't have anyone in mind, but Jane knew her better than that.’
      • ‘Naomi, as you'll know equally well, swore blind that unlike some models one wouldn't care to mention, she didn't take drugs.’
      • ‘Tony is a huge Patriots fan, a guy who swore up and down at the Super Bowl in New Orleans a few years back that New England was going to shock the world.’
      • ‘He swore up and down that it was all necessary for controling ones power but Scarlet knew he was just trying to get payback.’
      • ‘He told me all about it, when he was finished, and swore blind he was never going to mess with mysterious strangers again.’
      • ‘More than that, have I dropped it in favour of working in London, which I swore blind I would never do while I was still at university.’
      • ‘She swore up and down that she never would come here, that it was too much of a mess for her to drive all the way from Queens and back in midday traffic.’
      • ‘The fortune teller swore up and down on her husband's grave that the star had not been there the night before.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • swear by

    • Have or express great confidence in the use, value, or effectiveness of.

      ‘Iris swears by her yoga’
      • ‘The 24-year-old once swore by the smart boutiques of Princes Square, one of Glasgow's premier league shopping destinations.’
      • ‘Long before call centres adopted the ‘Customer is king’ policy, hotel management personnel swore by it.’
      • ‘I enjoy and take life as it comes,’ says Aditi, who swears by vegetarianism and is into yoga.’
      • ‘J.P. Krishna of Chennai has been painting hoardings for films and political meetings for 15 years now and still swears by the gada cloth and his art.’
      • ‘Whether in the tenements of Mumbai or in the villages around Ayodhya, I found Hindus and Muslims who lived and ate together and swore by each other even in times of crisis.’
      • ‘A guard swore by his honor, his faith and his love for his children that no one would be executed.’
      • ‘Apparently my aunt swore by it with my cousin and told mum who told nan who told my other aunt and it was the whole family's solution whilst we were babies.’
      • ‘The troupe swears by novelty and is a big crowd puller.’
      • ‘In a country where women swore by their gold, a shift in taste and preference is seen.’
      • ‘Are there doctors who swear by values that made medicine a profession quite different from others?’
      • ‘Now, please place your right hand on your chests and swear by whatever you believe in.’
      • ‘Although there are definite pros and cons, particularly regarding the safety of riding with strangers, everyone who swears by hitch-hiking will agree on one point: it guarantees an adventure.’
      • ‘And according to those who swear by its effects, unlike gymnastics, you don't have to do somersaults in this event.’
      • ‘Wilson swears by the importance and value of a good oil analysis program.’
      • ‘The family swears by Shiv Dharma, the new religion which is expected to give an impetus to the ‘Brahminetar’ (non-Brahmin) movement in Maharashtra.’
      • ‘But Dr Phillip Anthony McMillan, a UK-trained doctor, who specialises in Botox treatment, swears by this drug for the treatment of wrinkles and a number of neurological conditions.’
      • ‘The farmer owns six cows and swears by a herbal potion made from tree bark and salt, handed down from generation to generation here.’
      • ‘I have friends who also swear by Iyengar yoga, which is a variant of Hatha (as is Ashtanga).’
      • ‘For every sprightly old lady who swears by non-smoking, teetotal spinsterhood, there's another who boozed the evenings away with each of her seven husbands after a hard day's work in the tobacco-testing factory.’
      • ‘Dhupia swears by the on-screen chemistry of the two actors.’
      express confidence in, have faith in, put one's faith in, trust, have every confidence in, believe in
      View synonyms
  • swear someone in

    • Admit someone to a particular office or position by directing them to take a formal oath.

      ‘he was sworn in as president on 10 July’
      • ‘Accepting the position after she was sworn in by Eastern Cape judge-president Cecil Somyalo, Balindlela paid tribute to her predecessors, Raymond Mhlaba and Makhenkesi Stofile, who were both in the chamber.’
      • ‘All councillors are given a copy of the constitution immediately they are sworn in.’
      • ‘Many Sudanese refugees in Kenya were ready to return home after Garang was sworn in as vice president.’
      • ‘The first official act I had as secretary was to call the governor of California the day after I was sworn in to office and offer our help.’
      • ‘We were there while they were sworn in to become American citizens.’
      • ‘They didn't ask for this when they were sworn in, but you're doing a heck of a job.’
      • ‘But we know one thing for certain: a new Commission will be sworn in at some point, relatively soon.’
      • ‘South Australian Annette Hurley will be sworn in as a Senator after July the 1st.’
      • ‘She did not speak, but nodded her head when told by the clerk that she could object to any of the jurors before they were sworn in.’
      • ‘Angela Merkel was sworn in today as the country's first female chancellor.’
      • ‘Kenneth Wang will be sworn in as an MP tomorrow and we've got a few issue-based campaigns ticking along.’
      • ‘Another former premier - the Free State's Winkie Direko - was not appointed to an executive position although she was sworn in as a national MP last week.’
      • ‘Spectators danced and sang as President Thabo Mbeki was sworn in for a second term in office.’
      • ‘Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in at Buffalo, New York, close to where President McKinley had been assassinated.’
      • ‘Once they were sworn in, however, they discovered that policing had changed dramatically while they had been off the scene.’
      • ‘As Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was sworn in to office as the country's fifth premier, Anwar said Mahathir's projects have caused a huge financial burden for his successor.’
      • ‘President Thabo Mbeki will be sworn in, as part of official celebrations in Pretoria.’
      • ‘His argument is that it would be unlawful for the Legco clerk to refuse to swear him in if he presents his own oath of allegiance, and he wants a judicial review of the clerk's refusal.’
      • ‘A brief statement issued by Goh's office said Lee will be sworn in at a ceremony at 8 p.m. on the day at the presidential palace.’
      install, instate, induct, invest, inaugurate, introduce, admit into office, institute, initiate
      appoint, put in, create
      ordain, consecrate, anoint
      enthrone, crown
      View synonyms
  • swear off

    • Promise to abstain from.

      ‘I'd sworn off alcohol’
      • ‘You will probably swear off drinking for the rest of your life and promise your first-born if you could just feel better.’
      • ‘A drunken farm worker sells his wife and daughter to a sailor, then sobers up, swears off the booze and slowly builds a respectable life, rising to become mayor.’
      • ‘To be part of the movement it was sufficient to swear off reproducing any more children.’
      • ‘Remember using it once, getting that job without air conditioning, licking envelopes in Grimsby, then swearing off co-op entirely and stashing it in the very back of the back of your closet?’
      • ‘Later when he swore off smoking, he took up whittling wood.’
      • ‘He did all the right things by financial markets - swore off acquisitions, started paying dividends.’
      • ‘I swore off it back then, and indulged in various other people, while looking over my shoulder for a while.’
      • ‘If the popular kids are publicly swearing off sex, there's an absence of social norms for condom use.’
      • ‘Teetering on heels on a wintry night in Glasgow has Kathleen Morgan swearing off girlie sophistication forever’
      • ‘Interestingly, they don't swear off drugs despite those claiming more rock deaths than helicopters - in fact, we can't actually think of any rock star who died in a chopper crash at all.’
      • ‘With her as my first girlfriend, you should be glad I never swore off women altogether.’
      • ‘Similarly, in 1996 post-apartheid South Africa agreed to swear off the use of DDT in favour of insecticides that environmental groups claimed were more benign.’
      • ‘Then, they are going to declare in front of total strangers that they will swear off all forms of sex until they are married.’
      • ‘This year I swore off booze, vowing to drink casually and infrequently.’
      • ‘Then you said you could pay for the electric bill by swearing off fancy-pants coffee every other weekend.’
      • ‘So far, swearing off boys seems to be paying off.’
      • ‘If anyone's having a two-martini lunch in Baltimore, they'll swear off after this.’
      • ‘Maybe later I'll be hurt and I'll bawl my eyes out and I'll rant and rage against men and swear off them again and decide again on lesbianism or something other half-hearted swearing, like celibacy.’
      • ‘You swore off colas when newspapers said they contained pesticides.’
      • ‘As much as I crave the mini doughnuts, the horrible crowds in front of the juicer demonstration and the pure animal magnetism of the carnies, I'm swearing off it all.’
      renounce, forswear, forgo, abjure, abstain from, go without, shun, avoid, eschew, steer clear of, give a wide berth to, have nothing to do with
      give up, dispense with, stop, cease, finish, discontinue, break off, drop
      kick, quit, jack in
      View synonyms
  • swear something out

    • Obtain the issue of a warrant for arrest by making a charge on oath.

  • swear to

    • [usually with negative]Express one's assurance that something is the case.

      ‘I couldn't swear to it, but I'm pretty sure it's his writing’
      • ‘The republican edifice you swore to tear down is severely weakened.’
      • ‘Already his followers are swearing to avenge his death and I shudder to think of the next group of victims.’
      • ‘Saakashvili swore to achieve ‘integrity, reconstruction, unification’ for Georgia.’
      • ‘When Allan went to jail on fraud and theft charges, Elna swore to wear black every day until his release.’
      • ‘By this, an individual swears to renounce foreign allegiances, support the constitution and serve the US - including fighting in the armed forces if necessary.’
      • ‘Remember when you clutched your loved ones and swore to live each day to the fullest and be thankful for life and everything in it?’
      • ‘Each swears to wring the neck of the other and the result is a bloody one-to-one within the prison walls.’
      • ‘She swore, and swears to this day, that there was no man involved.’
      • ‘One well-known local trainer drops in with a lorry full of runners at least every ten days, swearing to the benefits of the facility, while a number closer to Duninga use the gallops on a daily basis.’
      • ‘I honestly worked hard and put my reputation on the line, swearing to my referrals that this was not a scam.’
      • ‘But he swears to this day that one crucial piece of evidence was planted - a half-kilo of a highly restricted chemical found in a wall vent of his house.’
      • ‘He was only allowed to return to India when he swore to the authorities that he would not indulge in any political activities there.’
      • ‘I left halfway through, swearing to myself that I would never ever show up to this class without checking to make sure we're doing something new.’
      • ‘Tommy swore to prove him wrong and went on to win the world exhibition dancing title in Paris and the regional British championship six years running.’
      • ‘As the occupation in the south continued, she swore to marry a fighter one day - a severely wounded fighter.’
      • ‘According to Pam, Jack admitted it and swore to never lay a hand on the girl again.’
      • ‘During this trip Norman writers maintain that he swore to support William's claim to the English throne.’
      • ‘Rather than regret those choices, I swore to myself I would learn from their consequences.’
      • ‘It is actually part of a response Hamlet makes to an exclamation of Horatio's, after Hamlet has talked with his father's ghost, and before Horatio swears to keep the secret of the ghost.’
      • ‘I ask all of you that are against this war to keep supporting our troops who are doing their duty as they swore to do.’
      certify, corroborate, confirm, verify, substantiate, document, authenticate, give proof of, provide evidence of, evidence, demonstrate, evince, display, exhibit, show, manifest, prove, endorse, back up, support, guarantee
      View synonyms


Old English swerian of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zweren, German schwören, also to answer.