Definition of swift in English:



  • 1Happening quickly or promptly.

    ‘a remarkably swift recovery’
    • ‘With one swift nod and a quick hand shake, Cannington exited the office The army general was not too sure what to make of this.’
    • ‘It has turbo technology that commands a swift take-off and has tuned suspensions that were designed for quick and agile moves.’
    • ‘The participants hoped their recommendations would help prompt the state and central governments to take swift action on infrastructure development.’
    • ‘Crane quickly reached into my coat and in one swift movement stuffed the papers into his pants chuckling at my disgusted look.’
    • ‘You take swift decisions and make quick changes when situations are tense and demanding.’
    • ‘His swift action meant speedy help for Janet, who has made a full recovery, and also a bravery nomination for Sam, from Heywood.’
    • ‘Seen from the side a battle is a struggle and a rivalry between the sides that use artillery fire, swift maneuvers and lightning strikes.’
    • ‘At the end of the proceedings, Udom demonstrated his strength for the crowd by walking up to a can and giving it a good swift kick sending it flying off into the air.’
    • ‘As one of her own television reports might conclude, the attack is bound to prompt Israeli hardliners to demand swift retaliation.’
    • ‘Will quickly drew his pistol in a swift wrist motion and shot the man, just like he had seen during duels in many western movies.’
    • ‘Hopefully being known as ‘Fast’ Eddie DeSoto will enable a swift rise up the greasy Mafia pole. reasons to be cheerful’
    • ‘With his domestic problems and this illness, we all pray for a swift recovery.’
    • ‘If Myles is reading this, hope the op went well and wish a swift recovery, looking forward to getting you back on the golf course’
    • ‘Almost as quickly, people began calling for swift action by Baltimore's criminal justice system.’
    • ‘Her eyes quickly made a swift sweep of the people in the room.’
    • ‘Supporters believe emergency drivers should be exempt from speed limits when lives depend on a swift response.’
    • ‘Imagine my utter surprise when he got off his horse in one swift motion and bowed down in front of me!’
    • ‘But following a swift Labour recovery, little has been heard of the pebbledash people.’
    • ‘Like Fuller and Guderian, de Gaulle advocated a fully professional army, with an armoured corps capable of swift manoeuvres.’
    • ‘He floored budding chess players with his swift one-liners like the lightening fast moves he makes on the board.’
    rapid, quick, brisk, lively, speedy, fast, high-speed, expeditious, express, breakneck, meteoric, whirlwind
    prompt, rapid, sudden, immediate, instant, instantaneous, without delay, ready, punctual
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    1. 1.1Moving or capable of moving at high speed.
      ‘the water was very swift’
      ‘the swiftest horse in his stable’
      • ‘Kathleen turned around to see that in the distance three men on horseback were riding towards her at a frighteningly swift speed.’
      • ‘Much of the opera is swift moving dialogue, but a distinctive feature is Martinu's insertion of slower moving sections.’
      • ‘The beast is replaced with a thin, swift reptile that is capable taking sharp corners and hiding inside buildings.’
      • ‘Thanks to a swift horse powered by a mysterious elixir, he intercepts Domenico, wounding him mortally.’
      • ‘Putting on a swift burst of speed, he dived low and skimmed the waters of a lake.’
      • ‘And with that soft promise playing through my mind I relaxed in Michael's arms and wished our journey back to camp swift speed.’
      • ‘White and pale camels are much preferred by the men as mounts, especially those which are swift moving, sleek and pleasant to the eye.’
      • ‘The scouts, on their light, swift horses, were racing ahead, but they wouldn't maintain the gap for long.’
      • ‘Perhaps it was because they knew how to borrow the swift legs of a horse that their own could afford to be slow.’
      • ‘It was a messenger, mounted on a slim and swift chestnut horse.’
      • ‘As one would expect, this is a very swift car, well capable of getting to 60 mph in less than six seconds and with a top speed beyond 150 mph.’
      • ‘During the 1st century ad a special courier service with swift horses was set up to bring fresh lychees from Canton north to the imperial court.’
      • ‘They are swift and speedy, but their style can leave holes to be exploited in the defence.’
      • ‘From the foggy midnight mist came quiet, swift horses, wielding conscienceless armored statues.’
      fast, rapid, quick, speedy, fleet-footed, fleet, swift as an arrow, like the wind, like lightning
      View synonyms


  • Swiftly.

    ‘streams which ran swift and very clear’
    ‘a swift-acting poison’


  • 1A swift-flying insectivorous bird with long, slender wings and a superficial resemblance to a swallow, spending most of its life on the wing.

    • ‘Just now the skies are busy with birds; rooks and crows grouping and re-grouping in ragged formation, starlings showing off their flock skills, and swifts silver-arrowing round and round.’
    • ‘Barn swallows and house swifts trawl above the water.’
    • ‘For years, before I had my stoep enclosed with a roof, swallows, swifts and European starlings nested under the eaves.’
    • ‘Wing loading in the paradise tree snake falls between those two extremes, but it's closer to that of the swift.’
    • ‘As a means of escape from his convalescence he began learning about birds and watched swallows and swifts returning from Africa.’
    • ‘Layang-Layang island, or Swallows Island, is populated by hundreds of thousands of migratory birds, mainly various species of swallows and swifts.’
    • ‘Our every-day experience is of eagles and swifts and other birds so highly evolved for flight that it seems absurd to think they might ever have been specialized for anything else.’
    • ‘The White-throated Swift is a large, slender swift with long wings and a narrow tail, usually held closed into a point.’
    • ‘Flyovers were generally excluded, except for those species that normally forage or search for food in flight (e.g. vultures, swifts, and swallows).’
    • ‘Titmice, chickadees, gnatcatchers, grackles, and swifts came and went.’
    • ‘Yet another time, near the hamlet of Pelayo, I could hardly see the sky because it was filled with common, pallid and alpine swifts, bee-eaters and house martins.’
    • ‘The great cave behind the falls is the roosting place of hundreds of swifts; at evening they dart in and out of the gorge before braving the torrent to spend the night behind Kaieteur's curtain.’
    • ‘Swallows, swifts and nighthawks, all pursuing flying insects, fly erratically.’
    • ‘A few notable birds I've seen flying over are a lesser kestrel and some unidentified swifts (probably Common Swifts).’
    • ‘Banning toxic pesticides has led to a welcome return of the swift winged raptor that suffered a decline in the 1960s from being at the end of the food chain.’
    • ‘Birds make territorial calls, swifts and swallows fly by, and then, bats emerge.’
    • ‘So if you do have swallows nesting, keep an eye open for chats and swifts.’
    • ‘Data gathered on the acceleration of swifts and swallows illustrate another compromise: Birds with low wing loading and high aspect ratio suffer from lower acceleration performance.’
    • ‘The true shear tips look like the swifts (the bird) wing tips.’
    • ‘This set includes the owls and nightjars, which may have a close relationship to the swifts and hummingbirds.’
  • 2A moth, typically yellow-brown in colour, with fast darting flight. The eggs are scattered in flight and the larvae live underground feeding on roots, where they can be a serious pest.

  • 3A light, adjustable reel for holding a skein of silk or wool.

    • ‘Illustrated in the book are other articles made in the Dominy shop for family use, such as a wooden bowl made of a burl from an apple tree and a swift to wind wool yarn.’


Old English (as an adjective), from the Germanic base of Old English swīfan ‘move in a course, sweep’. The bird name dates from the mid 17th century.