- When you use a broom to clear away dirt on the floor, this is an example of sweep.
- When your eyes scan an entire crowd, this is an example of a situation where you sweep the crowd.
- When your skirt brushes against the floor, this is an example of a situation where it sweeps along the floor.
- When you glide into a room gradually and regally, this is an example of a situation where you sweep the room.
transitive verbswept, sweep′ing
- to clear or clean (a surface, room, etc.) as by brushing with a broom
- to remove or clear away (dirt, debris, etc.) as with a broom or brushing movement
- to clear (a space, path, etc.) with or as with a broom
- to strip, clear, carry away, remove, or destroy with a forceful movement or movements
- to move or carry along with a sweeping movement: to sweep one's hand through one's hair
- to touch or brush in moving across: hands sweeping the keyboard
- to pass swiftly over or across; traverse: searchlights sweeping the sky, a fad that is sweeping the nation
- to direct (the eyes, a glance, etc.) over something swiftly
- to drag (a river, pond, etc.) with a net, grapple, etc.
- to direct gunfire along; rake
- to win all the games or events of (a series, set, or match)
- to win overwhelmingly: to sweep an election
Origin of sweepMiddle English swepen, akin to (or uncertain or unknown; perhaps altered from) Old English swapan: see swoop
- to clean a surface, room, etc. with or as with a broom or the like
- to move, pass, or progress steadily or smoothly, esp. with speed, force, or gracefulness: planes sweeping across the sky, music sweeping to a climax
- to trail, as skirts or the train of a gown
- to reach or extend in a long, graceful curve or line: a road sweeping up the hill
- the act of sweeping, as with a broom
- a continuous sweeping or driving movement: the sweep of a scythe
- a stroke or blow resulting from this
- a trailing, as of skirts
- range or scope: within the sweep of their guns
- extent or range; stretch; reach: a long sweep of meadow
- a line, contour, curve, etc. that gives an impression of flow or movement
- a person whose work is sweeping; specif., chimney sweep
- [usually pl.] things swept up; sweepings
- the taking or winning of all; complete victory or success, as in a series of contests
- in casino, the taking of all the cards on the board, by pairing or combining
- a long oar
- a long pole mounted on a pivot, with a bucket at one end, used for raising water, as from a well
- a blade or plow-point of various widths, used in the shallow cultivation of row crops
- a sail of a windmill
- Electronics one transit of an electron beam across the screen of a cathode-ray tube, moving either horizontally from line to line, as in a picture tube, or circularly around a center point, as in a radarscope
- Football a play in which the ball carrier runs a relatively long way toward a sideline before turning toward the line of scrimmage
verbswept, sweep·ing, sweeps
- To clean or clear, as of dirt, with a broom or brush: sweep a chimney.
- To clear away with a broom or brush: swept snow from the steps.
- To clear (a path or space) with a broom or brush.
- a. To search thoroughly: The counselors swept the dormitory during the fire drill.b. To search for and remove (electronic eavesdropping devices) from a place: swept the room for bugs.
- To touch or brush lightly, as with a trailing garment: willow branches sweeping the ground.
- To pass over or through a surface or medium with a continuous movement: He swept the sponge over the tile. The conductor swept her baton through the air.
- To clear, drive, or convey with relentless force: The flood waters swept away everything in their path.
- To wipe out at a single stroke. Often used with away : The incident in effect swept away all her dreams.
- To remove or carry off with a swift brushing motion: swept the cards off the table; swept the child into his arms.
- To move across or through swiftly or broadly: News of the lunar landing swept the country.
- To pass quickly across, as when searching: His gaze swept the horizon.
- To drag the bottom of (a body of water).
- a. To win all games in (a series) or all stages of (a contest): swept the World Series.b. To win overwhelmingly in: The opposition party swept the election.
- To clean or clear a surface with a broom or brush.
- a. To search an area for something.b. To search for and remove electronic eavesdropping devices.
- To move swiftly or broadly: The wind swept over the plain.
- To move swiftly in a lofty manner, as if in a trailing robe: She swept by in silence.
- To trail, as a long garment.
- To extend gracefully, especially in a long curve: The hills sweep down to the sea.
- To extend in a wide range: Searchlights swept across the sky.
- A clearing out or removal with a broom or brush.
- a. A thorough search of an area: a police sweep for drug dealers.b. A search for and removal of electronic eavesdropping devices, as in a room.
- a. A wide curving motion: a sweep of the arm.b. A curve or contour that resembles the path of sweeping motion: the sweep of her hair.
- An extent or stretch: a sweep of green lawn.
- Range or scope: the broad sweep of history. See Synonyms at range.
- Football An end run in which one or more linemen leave the line of scrimmage and block in advance of the ball carrier.
- One who sweeps, especially a chimney sweep.
- sweeps Sweepings.
- a. The winning of all stages of a game or contest.b. An overwhelming victory or success.
- A long oar used to propel a boat.
- A long pole attached to a pivot and used to raise or lower a bucket in a well.
- sweeps used with a sing. or pl. verb Informal Sweepstakes.
- a. sweeps The period each fall, winter, and spring when television ratings are accrued and studied and advertising rates are reset.b. The national survey of local stations that is conducted to determine these ratings.
- The steady motion of an electron beam across a cathode-ray tube.
Origin of sweepMiddle English swepen perhaps from swepe past tense of swopen to sweep along ; see swoop .
(third-person singular simple present sweeps, present participle sweeping, simple past and past participle swept)
- To clean (a surface) by means of a stroking motion of a broom or brush.
- to sweep a floor, the street, or a chimney
- (intransitive) To move through an (horizontal) arc or similar long stroke.
- The wind sweeps across the plain.
- The offended countess swept out of the ballroom.
- To search (a place) methodically.
- (intransitive, figuratively) To travel quickly.
- (cricket) To play a sweep shot.
- (curling) To brush the ice in front of a moving stone, causing it to travel farther and to curl less.
- (ergative) To move something in a particular motion, as a broom.
- (sports) To win (a series) without drawing or losing any of the games in that series.
- (sports) To defeat (a team) in a series without drawing or losing any of the games in that series.
- To remove something abruptly and thoroughly.
- She swept the peelings off the table onto the floor.
- The wind sweeps the snow from the hills.
- The flooded river swept away the wooden dam.
- To brush against or over; to rub lightly along.
- Their long descending train, / With rubies edged and sapphires, swept the plain.
- To carry with a long, swinging, or dragging motion; hence, to carry in a stately or proud fashion.
- To strike with a long stroke.
- (nautical) To draw or drag something over.
- to sweep the bottom of a river with a net
- To pass over, or traverse, with the eye or with an instrument of observation.
- to sweep the heavens with a telescope
- The person who steers a dragon boat.
- A person who stands at the stern of a surf boat, steering with a steering oar and commanding the crew.
- A chimney sweep.
- A search (typically for bugs [electronic listening devices]).
- (cricket) A batsman's shot, played from a kneeling position with a swinging horizontal bat.
- Bradman attempted a sweep, but in fact top edged the ball to the wicket keeper
- A lottery, usually on the results of a sporting event, where players win if their randomly chosen team wins.
- Jim will win fifty dollars in the office sweep if Japan wins the World Cup.
- A flow of water parallel to shore caused by wave action at an ocean beach or at a point or headland.
- A single action of sweeping.
From Old English swÄpan. Cognate with Early Mod. West Frisian swiepe (“whip, cleanse, sweep"), from Old Frisian swÄ“pa, suepa (“sweep"). see also swoop.