Definition of swoop in English:



  • 1 (especially of a bird) move rapidly downwards through the air.

    ‘the barn owl can swoop down on a mouse in total darkness’
    ‘the aircraft swooped in to land’
    • ‘In late summer and early fall, flocks of tiny finches and other seed-eating birds swoop in to graze among the spent blooms.’
    • ‘With that said, the silver and jet black bird swoops down off the branch and heads off to his home.’
    • ‘The sight is dramatic as the bird swoops on its prey and lifts it clear of the water in its claws.’
    • ‘The bird swooped down and settled itself upon the pinnacle of the flagpole, its grey-and-white feathers tinged silver in the dusky light.’
    • ‘The birds would swoop into the cold water then reach their heads back up to the fishermen.’
    • ‘Tobias jumped backwards only when the bird swooped in his direction.’
    • ‘The other day, I was driving around in the countryside and I saw these beautiful birds of prey swooping about.’
    • ‘The small bird swooped down and landed by the girls hand.’
    • ‘Some birds swooped down swiftly to their selected spot while others hopped up and down as if they were arguing with one another about where they were going to sit.’
    • ‘A fresh winter wind whips past and the occasional bird swoops through a brilliant blue sky.’
    • ‘Now that most of the old undergrowth has been removed the birds are swooping to get all the insects and worms I've disturbed as well as enjoying the occasional dust bath.’
    • ‘There were a lot of crickets and birds swooping around from tree to tree, beginning to spook me out.’
    • ‘A few black birds swooped into the air, almost in unison, then dived down again as if doing some sort of dance.’
    • ‘Green palms and tree canopies and a cobalt blue sea spread out before us, making us feel more like birds swooping in on a coastal breeze than landlocked tourists.’
    • ‘When birds swoop around en masse, how do they decide who does the steering?’
    • ‘The birds will swoop in front of cars to feed on the insects attracted by the headlights.’
    • ‘I gasped in horror as a immense bird swooped over us.’
    • ‘Instead the council proposed to put wires on ledges to prevent the birds swooping in to roost.’
    • ‘Birds swoop below as I peer through the vertical grid.’
    • ‘A pleasure boat glides silently over the surface of Loch Tay, as birds swoop to skim the water.’
    dive, descend, sweep, pounce, drop, plummet, plunge, pitch, nosedive
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    1. 1.1Carry out a sudden attack, especially in order to make a capture or arrest.
      ‘armed police swooped on a flat after a tip-off’
      • ‘Just before dawn, 200 police officers swooped on six homes and seized documents.’
      • ‘Four men were arrested under the anti-terrorism Act after police swooped on a residential street in Southampton early today.’
      • ‘Five people were arrested today when police swooped on a house on a York estate as part of a clampdown on crime in the area.’
      • ‘Police - using a drug-detecting sniffer dog - swooped on suspect passengers boarding and alighting from trains.’
      • ‘Acting on tip-off from members of the public, officers with sniffer dogs accompanied by members from the local police station swooped on some houses in the area.’
      • ‘Ten people were arrested after police swooped on a dozen addresses in south Manchester.’
      • ‘This morning's events followed three arrests after police swooped on homes across the district in a series of raids yesterday.’
      • ‘Earlier six men were arrested - five after armed police swooped on an address in north London at dawn and the sixth in Liverpool as part of the same operation.’
      • ‘A landlady was arrested when police swooped on a pub on the outskirts of Bolton town centre.’
      • ‘We passed our damning evidence to the police, who swooped on the companies' premises and arrested the masterminds behind the bogus operation.’
      • ‘Homes in Englefield Green, Sunbury, Shepperton and Addlestone were raided at the weekend as police officers swooped on suspected paedophiles in the area.’
      • ‘A police patrol car swooped on the van near to junction 17 of the M4 and discovered a huge stash of equipment inside the vehicle.’
      • ‘Twenty-one workers from eight different countries were arrested after immigration officers swooped on a pizza factory.’
      • ‘Armed police officers swooped on the village and Jones was arrested.’
      • ‘A Police team swooped on a coach carrying 35 workers following a tip-off that suspected illegal immigrants were working for a company in York.’
      • ‘Last Thursday, Gardaí swooped on the home of six men and arrested them for public order offences.’
      • ‘Officers investigating the attack swooped on a house in Farnworth on Wednesday afternoon.’
      • ‘The 19-year-old was arrested early today when police swooped on a house in the town.’
      • ‘A 22-year-old man has been arrested after police swooped on the four-bedroom home in Woodward Heights, Grays.’
      • ‘Armed police officers swooped on a house in York this afternoon after worried residents reported seeing a man with a gun.’
      raid, search
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    2. 1.2informal [with object]Seize with a sweeping motion.
      ‘she swooped up the hen in her arms’
      • ‘At one point Baldwin swooped one woman off her feet in a scene that was reminiscent of an old World War II movie reel celebrating the war's end.’
      • ‘Melody's work at untying herself was interrupted by Christine bursting into the room, and swooping her into a huge hug.’
      • ‘A moment later he was back to his effervescent self, swooping Rob's hot dog up off the grill and into a bun in one fluid movement.’
      • ‘I dropped my phone and ran over to her swooping her up just as she was about to grab onto the blade of the knife.’
      • ‘Without one glance at her, he swooped up his bag and books, and stormed out the door.’


  • A swooping or snatching movement or action.

    ‘four members were arrested following a swoop by detectives on their homes’
    • ‘Following the dramatic swoop, eight men were sentenced to life imprisonment, to be released between 22 and 27 years later.’
    • ‘The only movement was the flapping of a hawk or the swoop of a diving osprey, the only sound the gentle lapping of water on the shore.’
    • ‘But he ruled out a swoop for even more shares in the company, saying ‘We have no plans to further increase the level of this investment.’’
    • ‘He has contacts within the flashy high-speed world of Formula One and some of the men involved in his financial swoop for City are believed to be from the Grand Prix circuit.’
    • ‘Instead, Richard strode forward and with a single swoop of his open hand dealt Marco the heaviest blow he had ever felt.’
    • ‘Wanderers hope their pioneering swoop for Japanese striker Akinori Nishizawa will prove a smart move both on and off the field.’
    • ‘Immigration officials arrested five men in connection with passport fraud following a dawn swoop on a house in Billericay, it was revealed today.’
    • ‘The drugs were seized following a swoop on a house in Cahernorry, Ballysimon on Tuesday night.’
    • ‘Morrisons shareholders will decide whether to approve the £3 billion swoop for rival Safeway at an extraordinary general meeting next month.’
    • ‘Every statement was accommodated with a graceful swoop of her arms or an articulated movement of her hands, like a sort of exotic dance.’
    • ‘She shut them for a moment and immediately felt the world drop out from under her in a sickening swoop of her stomach.’
    • ‘The Garda National Drugs Unit has largely dismantled the Irish end of a massive international cannabis and cocaine network following three separate swoops.’
    • ‘Police and Customs and Excise officers seized £5m worth of suspected drugs following a joint swoop near Brogborough.’
    • ‘The swoop on gangland counterfeiters followed a pre-Euro 2004 intelligence operation.’
    • ‘Detectives said the blue or green Rover 600 was probably left in the town following the swoop on a guard delivering cash to the HSBC in Morrisons, on Tuesday afternoon.’
    • ‘Bryan Robson is trying to make a deadline-day swoop for Manchester United starlet Chris Eagles.’
    • ‘A spokesman said the company worked closely with the Immigration Service, knew the swoop was planned and would not face further action or prosecution.’
    • ‘Shutt has been scouting for fresh talent to add to the squad following his triple swoop last week.’
    • ‘One of the raids today involved a swoop on a flat above a kebab shop in Upper Brook Street.’
    • ‘There is still scope to sign players on frees, though, and Hughes is open to the idea of making a swoop for someone like Cole, providing it's financially viable.’
    raid, surprise search
    attack, assault
    bust, takedown
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  • at (or in) one fell swoop


Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘sweep along in a stately manner’): perhaps a dialect variant of Old English swāpan (see sweep). The early sense of the noun was ‘a blow, stroke’.