Definition of sweep in English:



  • 1[with object] Clean (an area) by brushing away dirt or litter.

    ‘I've swept the floor’
    ‘Greg swept out the kitchen’
    • ‘She swept out the dirt floor, her broom struck something under the bed.’
    • ‘They carefully sweep dirt from clothing and bones, finding bullets on and around one body.’
    • ‘Half of the party of 200 helped to sweep the floor and move a tractor and other machinery while the rest grabbed whatever they could to take to the new venue.’
    • ‘I showed them how they could draw with the conte or the ebony pencil, then mix the two by sweeping the area with a little turpenoid on a brush.’
    • ‘Stable boys were bedding the horses down for the night or sweeping the stabling area clean.’
    • ‘I swept the sun room floor and then pulled in the two galvanized tubs which held the broad beans last year.’
    • ‘‘We can cram in loads of people and it doesn't matter if anything gets dropped, as it can be swept out the next morning,’ says Skelton.’
    • ‘As well as the damage to the roof and cream carpet in the lounge, firemen were also forced to sweep water from the garage, which had been flooded from the freak storm.’
    brush, clean, scrub, wipe, mop, dust, scour, scrape, rake, buff
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    1. 1.1Move or remove (dirt or litter) by sweeping.
      ‘she swept the tea leaves into a dustpan’
      • ‘The rocks and soil were mutilated into mush that could easily be swept away from the scene.’
      • ‘More than 100 tons of debris that was swept into the bay by the deadly waves has been dredged by hand since the operation began in February.’
      • ‘Dust emissions are likely, the application states, but this will be swept and washed away by the local authority.’
      • ‘A huge campaign will attempt to sweep away litter and graffiti in a fresh war on crime which is expected to run for a year.’
      • ‘Joe's children's mess can be swept, hoovered or mopped from its surface.’
      • ‘After it had all been sorted, the driver came over with a large whisk broom, swept the leftover detritus into the gutter, and off they went, presumably to the next reeking pile.’
      • ‘She didn't have a beautiful garden, but she kept the place neat and tidy, even to the point where she swept the bare dirt in her yard.’
      • ‘I particularly remember a young girl sweeping the dirt in front of the pile of stones that had once been her house.’
      • ‘I said that I had a broom but I didn't have a pan to sweep the dirt into.’
      • ‘The vehicle was removed by 4pm and leftover rubbish was swept away.’
      • ‘Before beginning the sanding procedure carefully sweep all dirt, dust and other debris from the floor.’
      • ‘If necessary the surface should first be swept to remove loose stones and any build up of sand or gravel prior to testing.’
      • ‘He bent over up swept the dirt into the dust pan and throw it into the trashcan in the bathroom.’
      • ‘The scarab is accompanied by a man with a brush whose job is to sweep the litter into the road so that the scarab can lift it.’
      remove, wash away, expel, dispose of, eliminate, get rid of
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    2. 1.2Move or push (someone or something) with great force.
      ‘I was swept along by the crowd’
      • ‘She was swept into the crowd of students making their way into the building, and she let herself be.’
      • ‘He allowed the crowd to sweep him along in their stampede, helpless to do anything else, and was carried outside.’
      • ‘I am caught up in the throng and it sweeps me along.’
      • ‘Amidst excited cheering, Scott Parker was swept onto the shoulders of two of his teammates and raised high for all the student body to see.’
      • ‘They did so with such energy that I was swept along as well, hardly paying attention to the jokes or the plot.’
      • ‘When he was canoeing from 60 Mile early one morning at break up, his canoe tipped and he was swept along among the floating ice.’
      • ‘Fred remembers one incident when a 50 ft narrowboat was swept by the force of the current into a tree blocking one arch of the swing bridge soon after it had left the lock.’
      • ‘It became an unforgettable encounter when our raft capsized, and I was swept along powerless in its icy unbridled current.’
      • ‘I was swept along to my class by the tide of students, hurrying to arrive before the next bell rang.’
      • ‘The journey back downstream was even more exhilarating as the force of the water at the various cascades threatened to sweep you off your feet.’
      • ‘It took me so long to process all I was seeing and hearing that the monster had me by my shoulders and was sweeping me out the door before I could say a word.’
      • ‘She was swept along in that chaos and abruptly lost track of where she was.’
      • ‘She did not wish to go to the top, for she knew what would take place and had no desire to see it, but her own feelings were quelled and she was docilely swept along with the crowd.’
      • ‘The riotous crowd around him swept him along through arcane underground tunnels to a vaulted hall.’
      • ‘If the rig could be damaged and its contents lost, a spokeswoman for the agency asked, could not DU shells be swept away or moved from the seabed too?’
      • ‘I was swept along with the crowd and found myself genuinely delighted when Fulham went ahead.’
      • ‘Then a gigantic wave came rushing towards us and we were swept along into the trees.’
      carry, pull, drag, drive
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    3. 1.3Brush (hair) back from one's face or upward.
      ‘long hair swept up into a high chignon’
      • ‘Rilla knelt down behind Naila and swept the short brown hair out of the way.’
      • ‘Her long, curling dark hair had been swept upwards into the most fashionable style as of late, pinned into place by delicate silver gems that shone in her hair.’
      • ‘Her hair fell in tight blonde ringlets or was swept into an auburn chignon.’
      • ‘Her hair was swept up in a ponytail and a smile blossomed across her face when she saw him.’
      • ‘She is very pretty (still way too much make-up for me though) and lovely long brown/blond hair that she sweeps back into a ponytail.’
      • ‘The person had long, midnight black hair that was swept up in an elaborate style.’
      • ‘Tilting her face upwards, she swept her long hair back, her hand skimming the stitches along her hairline.’
      • ‘She swept her long dark hair from her eyes and looked over to James for support.’
      • ‘I swept my short hair up into a ponytail and tied it.’
      • ‘Her blond hair had been swept up into a sleek ponytail and she wore low riding hipster jeans with a plain white tank top.’
      • ‘She picked up her brush and quickly swept her long hair into a fashionable ponytail and then got up and walked over to her closet, which was brimming with clothes.’
      • ‘Looking highly affronted, Tiffany swept her long blond hair out of her face and narrowed her eyes at him.’
      • ‘Her hair had been swept up away from her neck, piled high on top of her head and held in place with fancy combs but a few curls hung loose around her face, framing her gorgeous eyes.’
      • ‘You can play with side parts that allow you to sweep the hair and clip it to the side.’
      • ‘Her hair was swept in an elaborate coiffure, a smile playing on her lips and her eyes dancing merrily.’
      • ‘He swept his still damp hair out of his face, but the longish sides still fell in front.’
      • ‘She had a slim figure and silver hair that was swept up tightly into a bun.’
      • ‘She grimaced and swept up her hair in a messy bun with one hand, whilst prodding me on the back with the other hand.’
      • ‘She is dressed in a period costume, a high-waisted white dress with a low neck and long sleeves, with her hair swept up.’
      • ‘The rest of her hair is swept up out of the way in a high ponytail.’
    4. 1.4Search (an area) for something.
      ‘the detective swept the room for hair and fingerprints’
      • ‘Then I take off at a jog across the tilled field, carefully avoiding the search tower spotlights which sweep the area under the beady eye of the armed guards.’
      • ‘We didn't begin searching until the house had been thoroughly swept for fingerprints and other evidence.’
      • ‘Lonely eyes swept the room, searching for open arms or warm eyes.’
      • ‘Only seconds after removing the vent cover and ducking inside, nearly a dozen powerful beams of light swept the area in search of the intruder.’
      • ‘It was pitch dark, and we were crawling along behind a military tank with its big searchlight sweeping through the fields to get there.’
      • ‘He swept the area with his eyes, searching for any Marines.’
      • ‘Immediately, they swept across the room, searching for anyone who may have entered.’
      • ‘Should that mean that Geiger counter sweeps searching for dirty bombs would become unconstitutional?’
      search, probe, check, explore, hunt through, look through, delve in, go through, sift through, scour, comb, go through with a fine-tooth comb, leave no stone unturned in
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    5. 1.5Examine (a place or thing) for electronic listening devices.
      ‘the line is swept every fifteen minutes’
      • ‘Because of this, Digifone had 24-hour security, while a security firm swept the offices for listening devices every two weeks.’
      • ‘Mr Brennan told the tribunal last month the meeting room was swept for electronic bugging devices before and during these presentations.’
      • ‘Prior to the movement of the bounding element, they sweep the area in the semiautomatic mode to detect the presence of enemy forces without jamming their systems.’
      • ‘There were even suggestions the England team's hotel was swept for bugging devices during the 2003 Six Nations series.’
      • ‘Kyle had swept it for listening devices and when he said it was clear the girl had immediately blurted out a million questions.’
      • ‘Before the election, the closed precinct is swept for bugging devices.’
      • ‘Several other diplomatic offices were swept for devices as a precaution.’
      • ‘The streets were swept with electronic gadgets seeking hidden bombs.’
    6. 1.6Cover (an entire area) with a gun.
      ‘they were trying to get the Lewis gun up behind some trees from where they would sweep the trench’
      • ‘Sergeant Irving told his squad to sweep the area.’
      • ‘To find the reserves, you'd have use massive manpower to cordon off the state, moving inward, sweeping every single building you came to.’
      • ‘In some instances, they would place antipersonnel mines in the vicinity of the IEDs in the hopes of killing soldiers sweeping the area around an IED.’
  • 2[no object] Move swiftly and smoothly.

    ‘a large black car swept past the open windows’
    figurative ‘a wave of sympathy swept over him’
    • ‘A prairie fire had swept away all traces of vegetation and there was a black, funereal mantle as far as the eye could reach in every direction.’
    • ‘And only a year earlier, six British backpackers were among 15 killed in a fire that swept through an Australian hostel while they slept.’
    • ‘Mr Blair's black Jaguar swept past a scrum of photographers gathered outside the Palace as excitement mounted over the crucial decision which is expected to be taken by next Monday.’
    • ‘Once outside city limits, it is perfectly feasible to leave the car in fifth gear and still be able to sweep past slower traffic quite effortlessly.’
    • ‘In Paris, a massive fire swept through an overcrowded apartment building housing immigrants from Africa.’
    • ‘Firefighters battled for more than an hour to control the fire that swept through three portable classrooms at Billericay School in the early hours of Saturday.’
    • ‘Just weeks after the refinery had resumed production of petroleum products, a fire has again swept through one of the furnaces that refines petrol.’
    • ‘A cool breeze swept past me, as if to uplift my spirit, did not serve the purpose, it left me cold, and more helpless than before.’
    • ‘I breathed in the air and shivered slightly as a cool breeze swept past me.’
    • ‘The fire which swept through a number of derelict buildings in Bedford, used by the homeless and drug addicts was probably arson, investigators have confirmed.’
    • ‘The wave simply swept through, destroying buildings along the way, sweeping people away and carrying them into the lagoons behind.’
    • ‘A policeman on the scene said the family were away and no-one was in the house when the fire swept through the grade-two listed building.’
    • ‘The family of a Scots backpacker who died when a fire swept through an Australian youth hostel last week have spoken for the first time about the tragedy.’
    • ‘But soon after, fire swept through that building, all but destroying the brand new studios.’
    • ‘Dressed in an oriental-style black and white top and designer jeans, Georgina held her hand up to her face as the car swept past the waiting crowds.’
    • ‘A hundred days have swept past in a heady parade of media applause, a new baby, a divided Labour party and humiliated Liberal Democrats.’
    • ‘Then he had no more time to think as the first wave of fighters swept toward him, firing wildly.’
    • ‘These frightening wild fires swept across open fields with unbelievable speed.’
    • ‘We walked down the tar road that was shimmering in the heat, dodging the occasional car sweeping past, until we came to the bridge.’
    • ‘As the fire swept over the car the fuel tank began to boil and a six metre jet of flames spurted out of the back of the car.’
    glide, sail, dash, charge, rush, streak, speed, fly, zoom, swoop, whizz, hurtle
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    1. 2.1[with object]Cause to move swiftly and smoothly.
      ‘he swept his hand around the room’
      • ‘Get it wrong and you can be in a current of anything up to 10 knots and, in seconds, be swept round the corner of an adjacent island, out of sight of your cover boat when you surface.’
      • ‘In a smooth motion, he swept her off her feet, carried her the short distance to the bed and laid her upon it.’
    2. 2.2(of a person) move in a confident and stately manner.
      ‘she swept magnificently from the hall’
      glide, sail, stride, breeze, stroll, sally, swagger, drift, flit, flounce
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    3. 2.3(of a geographical or natural feature) extend continuously in a particular direction, especially in a curve.
      ‘green forests swept down the hillsides’
      • ‘Escape Fire refers to a 1949 tragedy in Montana in which 13 young firefighters died in a wildfire that was sweeping up a hillside.’
      • ‘It is here that the roaring tide of the Philippine Sea, moving northwards, meets the mighty current of the Pacific Ocean, sweeping down in the opposite direction.’
      • ‘The exact moment of being in the picture was when in the far distance about 100 goats could be seen sweeping down the hillside towards the village.’
      • ‘Soaring green peaks sweep down to white sand beaches.’
      • ‘A very cold south westerly wind from the Andes that sweeps across the pampas of Argentina and Uruguay.’
    4. 2.4Affect (an area or place) swiftly and widely.
      ‘the rebellion had swept through all four of the country's provinces’
      [with object] ‘violence swept the country’
      • ‘Pikitup crews take to the streets of Joburg nightly to sweep, and even wash down, roads and pavements, and the new machine will be used specifically to target the worst streets.’
      • ‘Also tonight, the first death in a wave of rioting and violence that has swept through France.’
      • ‘This year, Boscastle became headline news when a devastating flood swept through the town, destroying all in its path.’
      • ‘Tens of thousands of homes, made of bamboo and straw have been washed away by waters sweeping across 25 of Assam's 26 districts.’
      • ‘When the last floods swept through Mozambique there was a shortage of helicopters and more lives would have been lost had it not been for the tireless work of the South African aircrews.’
      • ‘In Levenshulme hundreds of homeowners were warned to remain indoors and keep doors and windows shut after clouds of choking black smoke from a fire at a tyre depot swept across the area.’
      • ‘Some were victims of a sudden rise in sea-level near the eye of the cyclone - known as a storm surge - that swept across low-lying land.’
      • ‘A similar fire in the same area last year swept across six miles of ground to the outskirts of Mallaig, the fishing port to the immediate north, before it was extinguished.’
      • ‘The problem first surfaced when a deluge on July 12 th 1997, swept through the Glencullen area.’
      • ‘It is for this reason that violence is sweeping through Islamic world today bringing bad name to religion of peace and compassion like Islam.’
      • ‘Fifty years ago, an epidemic swept across this nation affecting millions of people and lasting for many years.’
      • ‘We've been fortunate because none of the eyes' of the hurricanes have swept through our area.’
      • ‘Hundreds of homeowners were warned to remain indoors and keep their doors and windows shut after clouds of black smoke from a blaze at a scrap tyre depot in Levenshulme swept across the area.’
      • ‘Floods that have also swept through the neighbouring countries of South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe have particularly hit Mozambique.’
      • ‘The classic example has been the Toronto Blessing, which came to Slovakia via the UK, and swept through many churches affecting thousands of believers.’
      • ‘So when a flash flood swept down the valley on Sunday night, leaving the road beneath 12 ft of water, the monastic ruin in the care of English Heritage was undamaged.’
      • ‘Additionally, there were the heavy rains and swollen rivers in the area that swept away mines and blurred their markings which gave rise to similarly hazardous situations for all.’
      • ‘On the morning of August 16, hundreds of soldiers surrounded and swept through areas of the northern town of Mannar and suburbs.’
      • ‘The burning oil is believed to have swept into the area's storm water drains on Monday evening after a fire broke out at the Hursthill substation on Perth Road, near the dam.’
      • ‘A 15-foot storm surge swept inland, destroying thousands of homes and businesses.’
      engulf, overwhelm, flood, flow across, surge over
      race, hurtle, streak, spread like lightning
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    5. 2.5North American [with object]Win all the games in (a series); take each of the winning or main places in (a contest or event)
      ‘we knew we had to sweep these three home games’
      • ‘The Heat, the lone new face in the Eastern semi-finals, also swept their first-round series, beating the Pistons in three games.’
      • ‘He spurned the Cardinals to sign a four-year contract with the team that swept St. Louis in the World Series.’
      • ‘They've just been swept in three games at Dodger Stadium and are headed home to face the Giants the next night.’
      • ‘He was ineffective for the first two games of the Pistons' playoff series against the Heat and sat out the final game as Detroit was swept.’
      • ‘Cleveland threatened to break away by sweeping a three game series in the first 2001 meeting between the Indians and the Twins.’
      • ‘San Francisco swept a four-game series against the Dodgers in June at SBC Park and has been led by - who else?’
      • ‘The ‘bush league’ outfit swept the A's in what still may rank as the greatest upset in Series history.’
      • ‘That point was driven home when the Giants were swept by the Astros in the first series after play resumed.’
      • ‘In the 1966 World Series, the LA Dodgers played the Baltimore Orioles who swept the Series in four games.’
      • ‘This realization struck Jones after last season, when he hit just .077 as the Braves were swept by the Yankees in the World Series.’
      • ‘The Sinon Bulls were a game short of sweeping the Chinatrust Whales in their four-game series last week.’
      • ‘Given the fact that the Giants swept the supposedly superior Indians that year in the World Series made me wonder what their Spring record was like.’
      • ‘The Rangers swept the Red Sox in a three-game series last season in Texas.’
      • ‘His first crack last year went awry; it lasted four games because the Maple Leafs swept the Senators.’
      • ‘They won the pennant by 17 games and swept the Cincinnati Reds in four Series games.’
      • ‘Though Boston swept Anaheim in the League Division Series, Guerrero was not finished.’
      • ‘In 1966, Russo assembled the scouting report that helped the Orioles sweep the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.’
      • ‘Denver swept the season series from Oakland last year.’
      • ‘In four years of head-to-head division meetings during his time as Chiefs coach, each had swept a series and split the other two.’
      • ‘If the Braves had been swept in the Division Series, the perception might have been the same.’


  • 1An act of sweeping something with a brush.

    ‘I was giving the floor a quick sweep’
    • ‘Vegetable fibers act a little like a brush which cleans and sweeps.’
    • ‘After all, he later employed Lauren Bacall, another grande dame, and made her sweep floors throughout Dogville.’
    • ‘A quick sweep of the broom and it was gone back out into the backyard.’
    • ‘Your first step is vacuum, sweep, or wire brush the entire fireplace and surrounding affected area out.’
    • ‘The brushwork varies from broad sweeps of the brush for fur and fabric to short strokes for beard and skin.’
    • ‘George, a brilliant if self absorbed painter, might possess the artistic vision to transform a group of hooligans into a band of angels with a single sweep of his brush.’
    • ‘The style is abbreviated, apparently deliberately imitating Cheret's poster technique, with broad sweeps of the brush giving blocks of colour both in the figure and the background.’
    • ‘I've given it a quick sweep up but tomorrow is going to have to be the big clean-up day.’
    clean, wipe, dust, mop
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    1. 1.1
      short for chimney sweep
      • ‘When coal fires were the norm, households would employ a sweep to ensure their chimneys were spotlessly clean.’
      • ‘When your chimney is swept, the sweep will use the amount of soot he removes as a guide to often the chimney needs cleaning.’
      • ‘A good way to be sure the sweep servicing your chimney is currently Certified is to check the search engine on this website or call the CSIA office.’
  • 2A long, swift, curving movement.

    ‘a grandiose sweep of his hand’
    • ‘He gestured encompassing the whole realm with the sweep of his hand.’
    gesture, movement, move, action, stroke, wave
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    1. 2.1Electronics The movement of a beam across the screen of a cathode ray tube.
  • 3A comprehensive search or survey of a place or area.

    ‘the police finished their sweep through the woods’
    • ‘On the fifth sweep of the same area, however, Geoff's body was discovered.’
    • ‘The men had built a large bonfire in the center of their camp, having had sweeps throughout the area to make sure that there was no enemy nearby before they turned to the more jolly matters at hand.’
    • ‘The incident caused a traffic jam along the Banda Aceh-Medan route as police officers conducted a sweep of the area hoping to apprehend the attackers, but to no avail.’
    • ‘A soldier later explained to patrons that one of the thieves had got away, and said no one was allowed to leave until a thorough sweep of the area had been done.’
    • ‘But my countryside sweep of the area around the school drew a blank on what has become one of the biggest talking points of the village.’
    • ‘In previous winters, the US military has mobilized one or two battalions for sweeps of particular areas, an approach which brought few results.’
    • ‘Combined with their radar sweeps of the area, they had pretty accurate picture of the ‘sonar exercise’ the Americans were involving themselves in.’
    • ‘Unlike previous sweeps in the area, the Americans and their Iraqi allies plan to establish a long-term presence to keep insurgents from returning.’
    • ‘Police concentrated their sweep on the areas around the Grand Hall Market in Soi Bua Khao and Wat Chaimongkol in South Pattaya.’
    • ‘These are military sweeps of areas known to be hostile to the Karzai government to kill or round up suspected opponents and terrorise the population.’
    • ‘We reached the bottom and Johns joined us not long afterwards and we started our sweep of the area Sadler set up.’
    • ‘I was rescued by an Iraqi military who were on a sweep of an area.’
    • ‘One of McAndrew's first tasks will be to to a full sweep of the city area and identify any other possible sites.’
    • ‘The team sweeps into the area and takes over any investigation, often angering local officials.’
    • ‘When he came through the start/finish area before making the sweep around Logan Circle to return for the finish, the gap was down to seven seconds.’
    • ‘We made a few sweeps around the area to make sure when we dropped the smoke, no South Korean fishing vessel would see our action as a sign of aggression.’
    • ‘There were also reports the murder might have been precipitated by a security sweep in the area where he was being held.’
    • ‘In a subsequent sweep of the area, 34 suspected insurgents were captured.’
    • ‘Using a seine four feet wide and at least 12 feet long with a mesh no larger than 0.5 inch, make several sweeps in shallow areas of your pond.’
    • ‘Once reinforcements arrived, in the form of New York City's Tactical Police Force, the streets were cleared in coordinated sweeps of the area.’
    search, hunt, exploration, probe, forage, pursuit, quest
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    1. 3.1North American A survey of the ratings of broadcast stations, carried out at regular intervals to determine advertising rates.
      • ‘When one impinges on the other there is an uneasy feeling - the kind which happens when unrelated TV shows crossover during the sweeps week on American television.’
      • ‘The ratings and the sweeps, everyone takes everything else into consideration.’
      • ‘The Golden Fleece here would appear to be a Nielsen rating during sweeps.’
      • ‘A two-part expose aired on our local CBS affiliate during sweeps week in May, the same week when the EEOC complaint was filed.’
      • ‘Did I think that it would descend to the depths of some people suggesting we were doing this because the networks are going into a sweeps period when ratings become important?’
      • ‘But I did the beginning of the season, and then I did some of the ending [ratings] sweeps episodes.’
      • ‘On LA Law they never intended to explore the issue of a relationship between two women; it was about ratings during sweeps so I always found it a bit cynical.’
      • ‘How will a little show about political aspirations compete for ratings in the 2015 sweeps season with holographic porn and Frances Bean Unplugged?’
      • ‘One TV critic even claimed we were doing it as a ‘craven ratings stunt for sweeps.’’
      • ‘Plus, the holiday season is to retailers what the advertising rate-setting sweeps months are to TV networks.’
      • ‘And it's an accomplishment for sweeps season as well.’
      • ‘CBS affiliate KPIX-TV spokesperson Akilah Monifa said that due to sweeps, no one was available to comment on the station's lack of coverage.’
  • 4A long, typically curved stretch of road, river, country, etc.

    ‘we could see a wide sweep of country perhaps a hundred miles across’
    • ‘‘Horizontal yellow’ is from a Navajo phrase for the sweep of dry grass stretching away in all directions.’
    • ‘From my second floor balcony, I can see the sweep of the road as it divides the high-rise apartments that are the new suburbs of Thessaloniki.’
    • ‘He pulled me in a wide sweep across the tarmac, as far away as possible from our prison.’
    • ‘From here the ridge broadens out in a wide sweep all the way to the huge cairn on Carn Eighe.’
    • ‘Sometimes he painted the scene from the Vétheuil side, as in Lavacourt of 1880, taking in the broad sweep of the river and the vast expanse of intensely blue sky.’
    • ‘Varanasi stands on the high western bank of the river Ganges, a broad, curving panoramic sweep.’
    • ‘Our next couple of miles was a broad sweep out and round on private road Tarmac.’
    • ‘Mayor Feeney believes there would be greater benefits to the town if the new road took a wider sweep, perhaps coming out downstream of the college.’
    • ‘Over this two - mile stretch, the massive sweep of the Junction Pool, with its lovely, choppy fly water at the throat and its tantalisingly glassy tail, is a sure thing at this time of year.’
    • ‘The constant flow of traffic and the sweep of the road created a very dangerous situation.’
    • ‘The site lies on the edge of town, overlooking the broad sweep of the river.’
    • ‘Vast sweeps of marshy valley stretch out before us; the massive mountains to the north change colors by the minute in the cloud-filtered light of an endless day.’
    • ‘Ruskin's View, of which the poet waxed lyrical in 1816, is worth a visit and takes in the sweep of the river Lune and nearby Calf Top and Crag Hill.’
    • ‘With some notable exceptions, modem developments along the Thames have failed to respond to the scale of the river and wide flat sweep of the estuary landscape.’
    • ‘Kizimkazi was a small settlement of mud huts, backing onto a wide sweep of white sand.’
    • ‘This takes in a wider sweep than the view on the ground.’
    • ‘The unit turned slowly doing a wide sweep of the upper level.’
    • ‘The St Lucia campus of the University of Queensland is situated on a sweep of the Brisbane River, upstream from the CBD.’
    • ‘Nzanga Mobutu stared out over the chocolate-brown sweep of the Congo river, and remembered his father.’
    • ‘We could follow the entire sweep of the river, from the lower meanders upwards to the source of the tiny stream high in the glaciated peaks of the cordillera.’
    expanse, tract, stretch, space, plain, extent, vastness, vista
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    1. 4.1A curved part of a driveway in front of a building.
      ‘one fork of the driveway continued on to the gravel sweep’
      • ‘A tree-lined driveway ends in a sweep in front of Old Hall, where there is a large front lawn and the grounds are surrounded by mature trees, secluding it almost completely.’
      curve, curvature, bend, arc, arch, bow, turn
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    2. 4.2The range or scope of something.
      ‘the whole sweep of the history of the USSR’
      • ‘The best biopics are ones like this, ones that don't try to tell the whole sweep of a life but rather examine one aspect.’
      • ‘Parasites and a whole sweep of other diseases causing micro-organisms also abound.’
      • ‘And he understood that the grand sweep of history was sometimes found in the prosaic.’
      • ‘Despite all of its concern for the sweep of history and the complexities of world politics, Walk on Water is at its most persuasive in the depiction of the relationship between Eyal and Axel.’
      • ‘It's certain that the greater world would not be affected any more than would be the great sweep of history.’
      • ‘These photographs are not records of the grand sweep of history, but of ephemeral lives and relationships.’
      • ‘When the festival works best, it works - like any festival in any of the arts - because it has acquired a critical mass that gives it a sweep and scope greater than the sum of its individual parts.’
      • ‘In the sweep of history, this will be seen as a perverse act by a political party that allowed its own insecurities to undermine its best asset.’
      • ‘Surprisingly, it succeeds in its primary mission to provide the grand sweep of Indian history.’
      • ‘When ranging over a great sweep of scenery, the naked eye takes in millions of shapes, shades, and textures.’
      • ‘The first thing that comes to mind for me here is the sweep of history which the Gods embody, and the range of differing experience that people have brought to that.’
      • ‘By turning your head, you seemed to take in the whole sweep of Irish history, from the Vikings to the plantation.’
      • ‘In the sweep of Southeast Asian history, there has never been as driven a builder as Lee Kuan Yew.’
      • ‘Diaries convey the sweep of history in the detail of eye witness testimony, while photos freeze a specific moment and capture it for posterity.’
      • ‘But the whole sweep of history is to her as a closed book.’
      • ‘In the long sweep of history, there will be Iraqi kids who grow up to bring their kids to America.’
      • ‘We can look at the whole sweep of history and not just the narrow corner that some partisans wish to confine us to.’
      • ‘The narrative is part humorous, part melancholy, and at times so funny that readers have tended if anything to underrate its sombre, even tragic, sweep and range.’
      • ‘Taking the cable tramway up to Villa Opicina, with its view over the whole sweep of the bay, is an excursion in itself.’
      • ‘Only a select few, over the sweep of history, design what scholars term grand strategy.’
      range, span, scope, compass, reach, spread, ambit, remit, gamut, orbit, spectrum, sphere, purview, limit, extent
      View synonyms
  • 5informal A sweepstake.

    lottery, sweepstake, tombola, ballot
    View synonyms
  • 6North American An instance of winning every event, award, or place in a contest.

    ‘a World Series sweep’
    • ‘The USA deserved a medal sweep in a sprint event, and they got it.’
    • ‘The Jeremy Wariner-led U.S. medal sweep at the Athens Olympics heralded a new era for American sprinters.’
    • ‘The Cowboys won't lose again - and that includes a win at Mississippi and a sweep of the watered-down Mountain West Conference.’
    • ‘And Vanzie hopes that a clean sweep of victories will smoke out Jason Cook.’
    • ‘Those two title runs make up for the one major wart on his record: the Spurs' complete meltdown in a four-game sweep by the Lakers in 2001.’
    • ‘Hao was looking to complete a clean sweep of gold medals for China after victories in the women's singles and both doubles competitions.’
    • ‘The win also completed a clean sweep of home victories for South Africa after the two wins over Ireland in previous weekends.’
    • ‘The work paid off during a three-game sweep at Florida.’
    • ‘She lost to Iva Majoli, blowing a chance to take a sweep of all four Grand Slam titles in the same year.’
    • ‘The only question, it seems, is whether St. Louis will finish off baseball's worst-ever playoff team in a sweep or in four games.’
    • ‘The Mets are building a huge lead and could leave the Giants with no postseason hopes except for a division title with a sweep of this weekend's four-game series in New York.’
    • ‘The victory gave Edwards a sweep of the Cup and Busch races at Atlanta that weekend, and he is the only driver to pick up his first checkered flag in both series the same weekend.’
    • ‘The Indian shooters made a complete sweep at the event bagging all four gold medals.’
    • ‘Patterson, the defending champion, dominated the women's competition with a clean sweep of the event titles.’
    • ‘Empire Maker was the upset winner of the Belmont in 2003, denying Funny Cide a sweep of the sport's three classics.’
    • ‘It was the first sweep in the event since 1984 and once again highlighted the dominance of the Americans in track and field.’
    • ‘All in all, Japan's men took home five of six golds and went 1-2 in four events, including a sweep of the 700 backstroke.’
    • ‘With his return came a three-game sweep of the Angels.’
    • ‘Winning the first matchup in Pittsburgh last Sunday was nice, but the Ravens might need a sweep to assure themselves of a playoff spot.’
    • ‘A Finals sweep would make the Lakers the only team in NBA history to rumble through the postseason undefeated.’
  • 7A long heavy oar used to row a barge or other vessel.

    [as modifier] ‘a big, heavy sweep oar’
    • ‘The sweep oar crew, coached by Loretta Williams, won the S38 + s event.’
    • ‘Over the two days of competition, Navy teams battled it out in the 20 man and 12 man events with crews containing paddlers, a sweep and drummer.’
    • ‘Bhim, our Nepalese boatman on the sweep oar, skillfully hauls the raft around so that we hit the wave bow-on.’
    • ‘Rienks's international rowing career spanned five Olympic games and during that time he won medals in both sculling and sweep oar events.’
    • ‘Those events are split eight and six in terms of both men and women and scull, where two oars are used, and sweep, where the oarsman uses only one.’
    • ‘Although it is their first season in the pair, the brothers are medallists in the eight and are using their sweep oar talent to their advantage.’
    • ‘The former oyster pirate from San Francisco Bay was the man at the stern with the crucial sweep oar.’
    oar, scull, blade, spoon, spade
    View synonyms
  • 8A sail of a windmill.

  • 9A long pole mounted as a lever for raising buckets from a well.


  • a clean sweep

    • 1The removal of all unwanted people or things in order to start afresh.

      ‘the new leaders wanted to make a clean sweep of the discredited old order’
      • ‘No Government has so far succeeded in making a clean sweep of maladies affecting our police.’
      • ‘He made a clean sweep by removing all the interior walls and covering the outer walls and ceiling in white Venetian plaster.’
      • ‘The 1977 Act did not, however, accomplish a clean sweep of common law conspiracy.’
      • ‘To get investors the best prices, it needs to make a clean sweep of barriers that impede trading.’
      • ‘The broom, for example, appears ready to make a clean sweep.’
      • ‘Back in the heady dotcom days, it seemed as though online polling was poised to make a clean sweep of market research - revolutionizing the way companies conducted quantitative and qualitative research.’
      • ‘I have frequently condemned it and wished to make a clean sweep of it.’
      • ‘You lot make a clean sweep of the area.’
      • ‘For a man with a broom wanting to make a clean sweep of city hall, one couldn't ask for a better place to start.’
      • ‘Not exactly decisive behaviour from the people that are trying to make a clean sweep of things.’
    • 2The winning of all of a group of similar or related competitions, events, or matches.

      ‘he was in reach of the nomination after a clean sweep of Tuesday's primaries’
      • ‘Burnley turned back the clock to record a clean sweep of victories for the first time since the beginning of the season.’
      • ‘England were dreaming of the Grand Slam today after completing the third leg of a potential Six Nations Championship clean sweep.’
      • ‘Dundalk anglers made a clean sweep of the prizes in the Danes Cast Firshery's New Year's Day Competition.’
      • ‘Thus he made a clean sweep of all the events he participated in.’
      • ‘The people of Listowel made a clean sweep at a prize-giving event which recognised their efforts to improve the town's appearance over the past few years.’
      • ‘It was Cooke's first appearance at the Sportcity venue since making a clean sweep of the national youth titles over seven years ago.’
      • ‘Zambia squash aces dominated the recently-ended East Africa squash safari circuit, by making a clean sweep of all three titles on the Kenya tour.’
      • ‘The Triple Crown also came as part of Wales' victory package amid a clean sweep of honours in European rugby's blue riband event.’
      • ‘York and District Indoor Bowls Club enjoyed a clean sweep in the Yorkshire League, the Hebden Trophy and the North Eastern League.’
      • ‘Royal College tennis players made a clean sweep at the Inter-School tennis championships by winning all six titles on offer.’
      come first, finish first, be the winner, be victorious, be the victor, carry the day, win the day, carry all before one, defeat the opposition, overcome the opposition, take the crown, take the honours, gain the palm, come out ahead, come out on top, succeed, triumph, prevail, achieve mastery
      View synonyms
  • sweep the board (or boards)

    • Win every event or prize in a contest.

      • ‘Manchester has swept the board at a prestigious design awards, winning eight out of nine honours for stunning new buildings across the whole of the north west.’
      • ‘Neil Todd, of Gosforth, near Seascale, almost swept the board with 16 first prizes, including best vegetable exhibit.’
      • ‘Last year the band swept the board at the Hardraw Scar contest.’
      • ‘If there were any awards on offer for good honest endeavour, Scotland would have swept the board more comprehensively than Titanic at the Oscars.’
      • ‘A thrilled young champion has swept the board at a national sports contest after overcoming his difficulties.’
      • ‘Honours went to a team from Nationwide building society in Swindon, which scooped the business trophy, while teams from the military swept the board in other events.’
      • ‘American Beauty swept the board, a triumph of thoughtful, provocative cinema over Hollywood's usual predictable bilge.’
      • ‘The BBC soap swept the board at this weekend's British Soap Awards, taking 10 of the 16 prizes, including the evening's top award for Best Soap.’
      • ‘Young entrepreneurs at a Clitheroe school have swept the board in the local heat of a top business competition with a computer car that motors around classrooms.’
      • ‘Students from George Ward School in Melksham swept the board with a successful company selling personalised t-shirts.’
      come first, finish first, be the winner, be victorious, be the victor, carry the day, win the day, carry all before one, defeat the opposition, overcome the opposition, take the crown, take the honours, gain the palm, come out ahead, come out on top, succeed, triumph, prevail, achieve mastery
      View synonyms
  • sweep someone off their feet

    • Charm someone quickly and overpoweringly.

      • ‘Women in satin dresses display a plucky determination as well as lush beauty, as men sweep them off their feet.’
      • ‘He sweeps them off their feet, uses them for his own selfish purposes, and then dumps them when he gets tired of them.’
      • ‘All women really want is a man to sweep them off their feet.’
      • ‘Dior's extravagant creations swept them off their feet, and transported them to a sublimely flattering existence.’
      • ‘Both girls giggled and returned to their work with dreams of weddings, white dresses, and handsome men sweeping them off their feet occupying their thoughts.’
      • ‘The whole chivalry thing was probably some ploy to catch unsuspecting girls off guard only to sweep them off their feet and then discard them later.’
      • ‘Both of the women said Swaby had been charming and swept them off their feet at first, buying them lots of gifts.’
      • ‘That explains this lovely lass following you, but then again, I don't think you need to pull them out of the icy sea to sweep them off their feet.’
      overcome, move, stir, affect, touch, impress, sweep someone off their feet, strike, stun, make emotional, dumbfound, shake, disturb, devastate, take aback, daze, spellbind, dazzle, floor, leave speechless, take someone's breath away, stagger
      View synonyms
  • sweep something under the rug (or carpet)

    • Conceal or ignore a problem or difficulty in the hope that it will be forgotten.

      • ‘‘Personally, I believe they are trying to sweep it under the rug and this is a method of trying to settle without people knowing the whole story,’ she said.’
      • ‘It seems like a fairly difficult thing to try to sweep it under the rug and pretend it didn't happen.’
      • ‘As Britain joined the International Criminal Court, Britain won't be able to sweep this problem under the rug.’
      • ‘I'm just disappointed that they don't want to address the issues, they want to sweep it under the rug.’
      • ‘Ridge could have easily swept the whole thing under the rug.’
      • ‘If effect, they've tried to sweep the bankruptcy under the rug with the hope that something, somehow was going to create value enhancement to bail them out of their predicament.’
      • ‘Either you don't understand English or you're ashamed and a coward or you're just sweeping things under the rug hoping that if you don't see them, they don't exist.’
      • ‘Let me tell you, first of all, the embarrassing information comes out, the FBI reaction is to sweep it under the rug, and then eventually they shoot the messenger.’
      • ‘It would have been easy to sweep the actual results under the rug.’
      • ‘For that reason, people often ignore problems and sweep them under the rug.’
      hide, conceal, keep hidden, suppress, keep quiet about, hush up, not disclose, not breathe a word of, censor, redact, gag, withhold, cover up, smother, stifle, muzzle, ban
      View synonyms

Phrasal Verbs

  • sweep something away (or aside)

    • Remove, dispel, or abolish something in a swift and sudden way.

      figurative ‘Nahum's smile swept away the air of apprehensive gloom’
      • ‘The DC Circuit Court also ignored the long history of battlefield reporting in its decision, sweeping it away with a concluding statement that such a history does not really exist.’
      • ‘During my time what I saw was a company sweeping numerous cobwebs away out of sight and failing to address real issues of business improvement.’
      • ‘That could very well have snapped the ropes and swept the boat away.’
      • ‘The work wasn't ‘finished’ when the show ended, and he swept the whole thing away, but that, I think was part of the point.’
      • ‘Although the task of finding bodies continues and hundreds of thousands of survivors are still traumatised by the monstrous waves that swept their world away, officials said it was time to rebuild.’
      • ‘Before they could get back up the mountain, the wave came back and swept them away.’
      • ‘But then he grew weary, and in one swift blow he swept the small city away with the back of his hand.’
      • ‘When they were accepted into the League of Ireland in 1985, public enthusiasm swept every other barrier away.’
      • ‘I suppose singing of his personal paradise swept his mind away from the dull repetition of knotting and unknotting countless little squares of fish net.’
      • ‘He put a new deal for cities on the table for all Canadians just last year and then, quicker than one could have imagined, he swept it away.’


Old English swāpan (verb), of Germanic origin; related to German schweifen sweep in a curve.