Definition of swipe in US English:



[with object]informal
  • 1Hit or try to hit with a swinging blow.

    ‘she swiped me right across the nose’
    no object ‘she lifted her hand to swipe at a cat’
    • ‘He is cranky and on several occasions has tried to swipe at or bite the tourists.’
    • ‘He thrust again, knocking James' blade away and pulling out a dagger with his spare hand, swiping at James' torso.’
    • ‘I guess he expected to get on a horse and start swiping at people.’
    • ‘Andy collapsed into a heap and continued to swipe at the air.’
    • ‘The coyote snapped at one of the wolves, and the two foxes, with smaller teeth and claws, but teeth and claws nonetheless, began snapping and swiping at the two wolves that snapped back at them.’
    • ‘He quickly darted in and bit the wolf in the neck and it howled in pain as it struggled but he held it tight and ignored its paws swiping at him.’
    • ‘He used this distraction to swipe at the dog's hind quarters.’
    • ‘‘Oy, sexist pig’ I pretended to swipe at him with my bag and he grinned.’
    • ‘She had quick reflexes, however, kicking him off of her and swiping at him with her knife.’
    • ‘She screeched, swiping at weeds with her claws, severing the yellow blossoms.’
    • ‘He was swiping at the air with his hockey stick as if that would help.’
    • ‘The worker shouted, swiping at the teenager with the blunt end of a pitchfork.’
    • ‘Lori was rapidly swiping at the flies with her canteen.’
    • ‘He continued swiping at the door, small slivers of light shone through but nothing happened that would help.’
    • ‘The creature threw its long arm forward, swiping at Fred's shirt.’
    strike, swing, hit, slap, cuff, lash out
    View synonyms
  • 2Steal.

    ‘someone swiped one of his sausages’
    • ‘Fights were sometimes orchestrated under false pretences, so that inmates could swipe and pilfer a target person's store items.’
    • ‘He stole that merchandise as surely as if he had swiped it off the loading dock.’
    • ‘Frankly, with a vast online knowledge base at your fingertips, it would be a miracle if people didn't swipe a phrase here or pilfer a juicy paragraph there.’
    • ‘The bill for the items he stole and damaged topped £72,000 and his crimes included swiping Christmas presents from family homes last year.’
    • ‘They're stealing more money, swiping more identities, wrecking more corporate computers, and breaking into more secure networks than ever before.’
    steal, thieve, take, pilfer, purloin, snatch, help oneself to, appropriate, abstract, shoplift
    View synonyms
  • 3Pass (a swipe card) through an electronic device designed to read and process the information encoded on it.

    • ‘Although the door the intruder used to enter the building can only be opened by swiping a security pass, it takes a considerable time to close, allowing the student time to get in.’
    • ‘A register might be taken electronically after children had swiped their way into class.’
    • ‘He told the court that customers who wanted to use the lobby had to swipe their card through a legitimate bank device to gain entry.’
    • ‘Exhibitors were issued with an identification pass card with bar codes that had to be swiped at the point of entry.’
    • ‘And when they get to an airport, they swipe it through the security device, they then punch a four-digit number into the door and it opens and you go in.’
    • ‘If you are part of the customer loyalty programme, a staff member will swipe your card in this device, which looks almost like a debit card machine.’
    • ‘Travelers then swipe those cards as they pass through security to confirm their identity.’
    • ‘Four SWAT officers in full body armor covered the door as a trembling Doctor stepped up to it and swiped a card through the electronic lock.’
    • ‘Authorities at border points would be able to call up the data on the digital chip by swiping the passport against an electronic reader.’
    • ‘Every time you went through a door into a classroom or a door in the corridor you had to swipe your card through an electronic card reader, and this was logged into an anonymous grey hard drive in the cellar and stored for posterity.’
    • ‘A new security system has since been installed, requiring each student to swipe a key fob through an electronic reader in order to gain access to their room.’
    • ‘Eventually she swiped my credit card and passed me a pen.’
    • ‘'Besides,' he continued, swiping his I.D. pass through an electronic lock, 'the kids trust us.'’
    • ‘The Indian clerk didn't read the message but continued to swipe my card again and suggested that I had input the wrong pin.’
    • ‘Somebody with a monthly pass came up behind me and swiped his card, which allowed me through.’
    • ‘Police have said the ruse takes a matter of seconds where one person distracts the victim while the card is taken out of the machine and swiped into a device which clones the magnetic strip on the card.’
    • ‘Each time a subway rider swipes the card, the turnstile reads the bevy of information stored on the card's magnetic stripe, such as serial number, value, and expiration date.’
    1. 3.1 Move (one's finger) across a touchscreen in order to activate a function.
      ‘simply swipe a finger across the phone's display screen to switch to another program’
      no object ‘swipe to the left on the main navigation page and you'll see a user login menu’
      • ‘Swipe your finger left or right on any notification in the list, or tap the "X" at the top-right to dismiss all notifications at once.’
      • ‘You scroll by swiping a finger along the frame.’
      • ‘It may make more sense to just walk up to the TV, touch the "window" that's showing the desired input, and then swipe until you get to the show and episode you want.’
      • ‘To make it easier for users to tap and swipe on even superthin Ultrabooks, laptop makers will introduce laptops with more unusual designs.’
      • ‘You point, swipe, pinch – and the job is done.’
      • ‘Pinch and double tap to zoom, swipe with your finger to move around and tap on objects to explore them.’
      • ‘Speaking a brief command is more efficient than swiping to unlock, swiping to find the right app, and then tapping through an interface in order to get what I want.’
      • ‘With the new gestures function, users will be able to 'swipe right' with two fingers to switch between open programs, without needing to use the keyboard.’
      • ‘To add widgets and features, swipe up on your home screen, and you'll see a link to the Go Store.’
      • ‘The lockscreen for instance can opened by merely swiping a finger up from the bottom of the screen and also allows the user more convenient access to the camera.’
      • ‘The updated SkyDrive will allow users to swipe through their files quickly and easily.’
      • ‘The controls are stupefyingly simple; swipe up to jump, left or right or turn, down to slide under stuff.’
      • ‘When you want to search, you swipe down on a drawer at the top of the screen, in a gesture not unlike pulling down the notifications screen on iOS.’
      • ‘As you swipe your finger across the trackpad or magic mouse, one station fades out as another smoothly fades in, with no interruption in listening.’
      • ‘When you swipe one finger from right to left, the Charms menu quickly appears.’


  • 1A sweeping blow.

    ‘he missed the ball with his first swipe’
    • ‘She blocked the shot and swung at his arm, but he rolled under the swipe and shot a piercing blow at her legs.’
    • ‘I spun around in wild alarm - both dodging the swipe and swinging my sword at him.’
    • ‘Jason took a backhand swipe and connected with Bill's forehead above the right eye.’
    • ‘I countered his lunge with a powerful swipe of my arm, using his momentum to thrust him to the ground.’
    • ‘Your sword must strike purposefully, not just clumsy swipes.’
    • ‘With a powerful swipe of its paw, the wolf delivered a final blow to Bonnie's head.’
    • ‘He blocked to blows from the young soldier then took a swipe of his own.’
    • ‘She took a swipe at him, turning fully around to attack him.’
    • ‘She moved to one side to avoid a more volatile slash and returned by stepping dangerously close with a backhanded swipe to the temple.’
    • ‘His upward swipe countered the first two's downward blows.’
    • ‘Justin turned aside the blow with a quick swipe, and countered with a low sweep, hoping to get Timothy to jump over the blade.’
    • ‘The officer, a commander by the looks of it, parried his blow before attempting another swipe.’
    • ‘His attack was parried, and then counterattacked with a diagonal swipe to the head.’
    • ‘A back-handed swipe, and a rush of blood to the cheeks.’
    strike, stroke, swing, hit, slap, brush, cuff, clip
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 An attack or criticism.
      ‘he took a swipe at his critics’
      • ‘He's also taken a swipe at some union leaders, who he claims call strikes simply to advance their political ambitions.’
      • ‘He makes well directed swipes at the hackneyed emotionalism that has crept into every newspaper, the cult of celebrity and, particularly, the decline of reporting of politics and serious discussion of policy.’
      • ‘The councillor also took a swipe at the police service following raids in nationalist areas of Belfast yesterday morning.’
      • ‘At the debate, he did better, avoiding negative swipes, coming across with concrete ideas, displaying genuine passion.’
      • ‘It's very unusual to see such established celebrities taking verbal swipes at each other.’
      • ‘He took a swipe at the Democratic candidates yesterday who want to roll back his cuts, claiming the reductions have fuelled a broad economic recovery in the US.’
      • ‘But there were no swipes at either of the two potential Labor leaders.’
      • ‘He peppers the book with swipes at Republicans and conservatives that will make liberal readers feel good about themselves but will annoy everyone else.’
      • ‘He took a swipe at you, not necessarily personally at you, but at your administration and what he inherited when he took office.’
      • ‘And in perhaps the most pertinent comment of the day, he took a swipe at all those who had lost sight of the bigger picture.’
      • ‘Even archeologists have gotten in their swipes.’
      • ‘Most of the 74 opinions are also lengthy and convoluted, larded with unnecessary detail and footnotes, and containing inappropriate swipes at the work of the other justices.’
      • ‘And he hasn't been shy about taking swipes at the press.’
      • ‘He took a swipe at earlier press reports which claimed he would take advantage of the company and sell the properties as soon as he could after the two-year period to pocket profits.’
      • ‘A city politician today took a swipe at neighbouring town halls for imposing council tax hikes up to four times inflation.’
      • ‘The swipes will be featured prominently in press coverage tomorrow.’
      • ‘Indeed she began taking swipes at me when I walked by, demonstrating some of the flash and fire that made her such a distinctive personality.’
      • ‘Was it because Cheryl took a swipe at you in her book?’
      • ‘Bolton Wanderers striker Paul Wheatcroft has taken a swipe at Manchester United for releasing him as a promising trainee.’
      • ‘In accepting the award, he paid tribute to the role fans played in turning his movies into a success and took a swipe at critics in the process.’
  • 2An act or instance of moving one's finger across a touchscreen to activate a function.

    ‘a swipe to the right archives or deletes the message’
    • ‘Various combinations of taps and swipes mimic the actions of a trackpad or mouse.’
    • ‘It has been updated specifically to incorporate finger swipes and movements that allow for navigation, switching through apps, and zooming in and out.’
    • ‘Users will be able to use two-finger swipes to jump from the current site to the previous one, or to the next one.’
    • ‘I was unable to move between full-screen apps using the sideways four-fingered swipe.’
    • ‘Notification Center can also be accessed with a two-fingered swipe, right-to-left, starting from off the trackpad.’
    • ‘A web browser is one of few places where a two-fingered swipe can be ambiguous.’
    • ‘Your basic attack move is a one-fingered swipe on your target.’
    • ‘As ever, Dashboard is always just a three-finger swipe away.’
    • ‘He responded by noting that deleting its app is "a simple act requiring no more than two swipes of his finger on his phone".’


  • swipe right (or left)

    • informal (on the online dating app Tinder) indicate that one finds someone attractive (or unattractive) by moving one's finger to the right (or left) across an image of them on a touchscreen.

      ‘I swiped right, but sadly for me, she swiped left’
      figurative ‘are elephants more likely to ‘swipe right’ when they see mates with longer trunks?’
      • ‘He hasn't come up yet, but when he does, I'm swiping right.’
      • ‘He swiped right on Grace and started messaging her.’
      • ‘Erin met her boyfriend when they both swiped right.’
      • ‘So, on a whim, I downloaded Tinder, quickly created a profile, set my search radius to within 5km, and started swiping right on everyone who seemed like-minded.’
      • ‘Watching friends bent over their smartphone swiping left or right on Tinder and sending racy Snapchat photos with flirty captions has left me thinking that romance is dead.’
      • ‘I might need to start swiping left on Tinder a little more.’


Mid 18th century: perhaps a variant of sweep.