Definition of swift in English:



  • 1Happening quickly or promptly.

    ‘a remarkably swift recovery’
    • ‘Her eyes quickly made a swift sweep of the people in the room.’
    • ‘He floored budding chess players with his swift one-liners like the lightening fast moves he makes on the board.’
    • ‘You take swift decisions and make quick changes when situations are tense and demanding.’
    • ‘With his domestic problems and this illness, we all pray for a swift recovery.’
    • ‘Imagine my utter surprise when he got off his horse in one swift motion and bowed down in front of me!’
    • ‘Like Fuller and Guderian, de Gaulle advocated a fully professional army, with an armoured corps capable of swift manoeuvres.’
    • ‘Supporters believe emergency drivers should be exempt from speed limits when lives depend on a swift response.’
    • ‘As one of her own television reports might conclude, the attack is bound to prompt Israeli hardliners to demand swift retaliation.’
    • ‘His swift action meant speedy help for Janet, who has made a full recovery, and also a bravery nomination for Sam, from Heywood.’
    • ‘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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Hopefully being known as ‘Fast’ Eddie DeSoto will enable a swift rise up the greasy Mafia pole. reasons to be cheerful’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It has turbo technology that commands a swift take-off and has tuned suspensions that were designed for quick and agile moves.’
    • ‘Almost as quickly, people began calling for swift action by Baltimore's criminal justice system.’
    • ‘Seen from the side a battle is a struggle and a rivalry between the sides that use artillery fire, swift maneuvers and lightning strikes.’
    • ‘But following a swift Labour recovery, little has been heard of the pebbledash people.’
    • ‘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.’
    prompt, rapid, sudden, immediate, instant, instantaneous, without delay, ready, punctual
    rapid, quick, brisk, lively, speedy, fast, high-speed, expeditious, express, breakneck, meteoric, whirlwind
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    1. 1.1 Moving or capable of moving at high speed.
      ‘the water was very swift’
      ‘the swiftest horse in his stable’
      • ‘Perhaps it was because they knew how to borrow the swift legs of a horse that their own could afford to be slow.’
      • ‘They are swift and speedy, but their style can leave holes to be exploited in the defence.’
      • ‘And with that soft promise playing through my mind I relaxed in Michael's arms and wished our journey back to camp swift speed.’
      • ‘The scouts, on their light, swift horses, were racing ahead, but they wouldn't maintain the gap for long.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The beast is replaced with a thin, swift reptile that is capable taking sharp corners and hiding inside buildings.’
      • ‘From the foggy midnight mist came quiet, swift horses, wielding conscienceless armored statues.’
      • ‘Putting on a swift burst of speed, he dived low and skimmed the waters of a lake.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘White and pale camels are much preferred by the men as mounts, especially those which are swift moving, sleek and pleasant to the eye.’
      • ‘Thanks to a swift horse powered by a mysterious elixir, he intercepts Domenico, wounding him mortally.’
      • ‘It was a messenger, mounted on a slim and swift chestnut horse.’
      fast, rapid, quick, speedy, fleet-footed, fleet, swift as an arrow, like the wind, like lightning
      View synonyms


  • except in combination 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.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Barn swallows and house swifts trawl above the water.’
    • ‘Birds make territorial calls, swifts and swallows fly by, and then, bats emerge.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Flyovers were generally excluded, except for those species that normally forage or search for food in flight (e.g. vultures, swifts, and swallows).’
    • ‘The White-throated Swift is a large, slender swift with long wings and a narrow tail, usually held closed into a point.’
    • ‘This set includes the owls and nightjars, which may have a close relationship to the swifts and hummingbirds.’
    • ‘Wing loading in the paradise tree snake falls between those two extremes, but it's closer to that of the swift.’
    • ‘So if you do have swallows nesting, keep an eye open for chats and swifts.’
    • ‘For years, before I had my stoep enclosed with a roof, swallows, swifts and European starlings nested under the eaves.’
    • ‘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 true shear tips look like the swifts (the bird) wing tips.’
    • ‘As a means of escape from his convalescence he began learning about birds and watched swallows and swifts returning from Africa.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Titmice, chickadees, gnatcatchers, grackles, and swifts came and went.’
  • 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.