Definition of swerve in US English:



  • Change or cause to change direction abruptly.

    no object ‘a car swerved around a corner’
    with object ‘he swerved the truck, narrowly missing a teenager on a skateboard’
    • ‘He said his wife had tried to get help by stopping passing cars but one had swerved around her.’
    • ‘A gust of wind comes up; the balloon swerves out over the street and bounces off a parked car.’
    • ‘As if on cue, a motorist, seeing the grisly scene before him, swerves in order to crush this cannibal rat.’
    • ‘Because the car is out of control, the bus swerves to avoid it.’
    • ‘It should be widened and sidewalks introduced - a truck swerving to avoid a pedestrian was the cause of one of last week's crashes there.’
    • ‘For at least five minutes, it dips and swerves and revels in front of us, disappearing out of sight for seconds and then zipping back into view from nowhere.’
    • ‘A few cars swerved and squeezed by us, but finally someone had to stop and give us way.’
    • ‘With this decision, the film swerves into sentimentalist airspace.’
    • ‘Aircraft swerves, departs runway and is destroyed after flipping over.’
    • ‘Lucio's free-kick swerves wildly but Barthez claims well.’
    • ‘The camera swerves quickly from the murder to the reaction: Meenakshi retching in horror.’
    • ‘He sidesteps, swerves and pauses after difficult questions to consider his answers.’
    • ‘The ball swerves in the air a la Roberto Carlos and is in all the way, but Marcos fingertips the ball onto the right-hand post.’
    • ‘From time-to-time, an unevenness in tone is evident, as the movie swerves between bawdy farce and melodrama.’
    • ‘Much of the book swerves from the Russian novelist to the Australian writer's own life to big ideas.’
    • ‘She was kept in jail for several hours by LA cops after they spotted her pick-up truck swerving wildly on the freeway out of the city.’
    • ‘Every time the driver swerves, a few hundred pedestrians are killed.’
    • ‘But when he hits the frightening climax, the camera swerves at dizzying angles, the sound desynchs, and the makeup and sets become highly expressionistic.’
    • ‘The sudden swerves from genre to genre prove unsettling rather than exciting.’
    • ‘Ronaldo gets the ball 25 yards out but his shot swerves high and wide.’
    veer, change direction, go off course, deviate, skew, diverge, sheer, curve, twist, weave, zigzag, turn aside, branch off, sidetrack
    View synonyms


  • An abrupt change of direction.

    ‘do not make sudden swerves, particularly around parked vehicles’
    • ‘Emergency swerves to avoid a crash can themselves lead to rollover accidents.’
    • ‘The two drivers had blasted away from the rest at the start, with Hakkinen getting the best of the German, despite one of Schumacher's famous start line swerves.’
    • ‘The tall and rather narrow little car could not cope with sudden swerves.’
    • ‘Didactic tendencies are continually being subverted by swerves, qualifications, and context.’
    • ‘But its slices of summery California melody are so well-executed it's easy to forgive the disc's occasional swerves into syrupy sentiment.’
    • ‘It's becoming one of the great sights in the game, watching the young Portuguese international marauding down the wing spilling out tricks and swerves in a manner not dissimilar to a certain Irishman in the 60s.’
    • ‘So Dad and I got to go down this amazing blue run with great hills and swerves.’
    • ‘Audacious loops, bends and swerves are undertaken at astonishing speed and with awesome precision.’
    • ‘When garbage contains hard objects, it can contribute more directly to accidents by causing damage to vehicles, punctures or dangerous swerves.’
    • ‘There are too many plot twists that are too incredible and, once all the swerves are added up, that don't matter.’
    • ‘Being world class is not just holding glittering events but roads on which traffic can move at an average and safe speed of at least 40 kmph. without frequent swerves and stops to avoid potholes.’
    • ‘Lunge Turns are great for making hard swerves in a fast-moving game of hockey or in an emergency situation.’


Old English sweorfan ‘depart, leave, turn aside’, of Germanic origin; related to Middle Dutch swerven ‘to stray’.