American English

Definition of swim verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they swim
    he / she / it swims
    past simple swam
    past participle swum
    -ing form swimming
    jump to other results
  1. 1[intransitive, transitive] (of a person) to move through water in a horizontal position using the arms and legs I can't swim. The boys swam across the lake. We swam out (= away from land) to the yacht. They spent the day swimming and sunbathing. swim something Can you swim the backstroke yet? How long will it take her to swim the length of the lake? Which Word?bath / bathe / swim / sunbathe When you wash yourself, you can say that you bathe, but it is much more common to say take a bath. You can also bathe another person, for example a baby:Have you bathed the baby yet? You can bathe a part of your body, especially to clean a wound:Bathe the wound and apply a clean dressing. When you go swimming, you say that you swim, go for a swim, or go swimming:Let’s go for a quick swim in the pool. She goes swimming every morning before breakfast.What you wear for this activity is usually called a swimsuit or a bathing suit. When you lie in the sun in order to turn brown, you sunbathe.
  2. 2[intransitive] go swimming to spend time swimming for pleasure I go swimming twice a week.
  3. 3[intransitive] (+ adv./prep.) (of a fish, etc.) to move through or across water A shoal of fish swam past. Ducks were swimming around on the river.
  4. 4[intransitive] be swimming to be covered with a lot of liquid swim (in something) The main course was swimming in oil. swim (with something) Her eyes were swimming with tears.
  5. 5[intransitive] (of objects, etc.) to seem to be moving around, especially when you are sick or drunk The pages swam before her eyes.
  6. 6[intransitive] to feel confused and/or as if everything is spinning around His head swam and he swayed dizzily.
  7. Idioms
    sink or swim
    jump to other results
    to be in a situation where you will either succeed by your own efforts or fail completely The new students were just left to sink or swim.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: swim