Definition of sweep verb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//swiːp//
    ; NAmE NAmE//swiːp//
    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they sweep
    BrE BrE//swiːp//
    ; NAmE NAmE//swiːp//
    he / she / it sweeps
    BrE BrE//swiːps//
    ; NAmE NAmE//swiːps//
    past simple swept
    BrE BrE//swept//
    ; NAmE NAmE//swept//
    past participle swept
    BrE BrE//swept//
    ; NAmE NAmE//swept//
    -ing form sweeping
    BrE BrE//ˈswiːpɪŋ//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈswiːpɪŋ//
    Styling hair
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    with brush or hand
  1. 1  [transitive, intransitive] to clean a room, surface, etc. using a broom (= a type of brush on a long handle) sweep (something) to sweep the floor Chimneys should be swept regularly. sweep something + adj. The showroom had been emptied and swept clean.
  2. 2  [transitive] sweep something + adv./prep. to remove something from a surface using a brush, your hand, etc. She swept the crumbs into the wastebasket. He swept the leaves up into a pile. She swept the clothes onto the floor and invited him to sit down.
  3. move quickly/with force
  4. 3[transitive] sweep somebody/something + adv./prep. to move or push somebody/something suddenly and with a lot of force The little boat was swept out to sea. Their tent was swept away in the storm. She let herself be swept along by the crowd.
  5. 4[intransitive, transitive] (of weather, fire, etc.) to move suddenly and/or with force over an area or in a particular direction + adv./prep. Rain swept in through the broken windows. A fire swept through the store on Tuesday night. sweep something Strong winds regularly sweep the islands.
  6. of a person
  7. 5[intransitive] + adv./prep. to move quickly and/or smoothly, especially in a way that impresses or is intended to impress other people Without another word she swept out of the room. (figurative) He swept into the lead with an almost perfect performance.
  8. 6[transitive] sweep something + adv./prep. to move something, especially your hand or arm, quickly and smoothly in a particular direction He rushed to greet her, sweeping his arms wide.
  9. of feelings
  10. 7[intransitive] + adv./prep. to suddenly affect somebody strongly A wave of tiredness swept over her. Memories came sweeping back.
  11. of ideas/fashions
  12. 8[intransitive, transitive] to spread quickly + adv./prep. Rumours of his resignation swept through the company. sweep something the latest craze sweeping America
  13. look/move over area
  14. 9[intransitive, transitive] to move over an area, especially in order to look for something + adv./prep. His eyes swept around the room. The car headlights swept across the front of the building. sweep something Searchlights swept the sky. She swept the crowd with her binoculars.
  15. touch surface
  16. 10[transitive] sweep something to move, or move something, over a surface, touching it lightly Her dress swept the ground as she walked.
  17. hair
  18. 11[transitive] sweep something + adv./prep. to brush, comb, etc. your hair in a particular direction Her hair was swept back from her face. See related entries: Styling hair
  19. of landscape
  20. 12[intransitive] + adv./prep. to form a long smooth curve The hotel gardens sweep down to the beach.
  21. in sport
  22. 13[transitive] sweep something (North American English) to win all the games in a series of games against another team or all the parts of a contest The Blue Jays have a chance to sweep the series. New Jersey swept Detroit last season.
  23. Word OriginOld English swāpan (verb), of Germanic origin; related to German schweifen ‘sweep in a curve’.Extra examples A pair of golden eagles swept across the sky. She swept a hand through her hair. The traveller swept a hand toward the endless expanse of water. Two police motorcycles swept through the village. Without another word, she swept out of the room. to sweep the floor/​street/​stairsIdioms to win all the prizes, etc. in a competition
    sweep somebody off their feet
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    to make somebody fall suddenly and deeply in love with you She’s waiting for some hero to come and sweep her off her feet. See related entries: Love
    sweep (somebody) to power
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    to win an election by a large number of votes; to make somebody win an election with a large number of votes
    to win a contest easily Obama swept to victory in 2008.
    sweep something under the carpet (also US English sweep something under the rug)
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    to try to stop people from finding out about something wrong, illegal, embarrassing, etc. that has happened or that you have done An earlier report, implicating the government, had been conveniently swept under the carpet.
    Phrasal Verbssweep somebody alongsweep somethingasidesweep somethingawaysweep somethingoutsweep somebodyup
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: sweep