Definition of swell noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//swel//
    ; NAmE NAmE//swel//
    Coastlines and the sea
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  1. 1[countable, usually singular] the movement of the sea when it rises and falls without the waves breaking The boat was caught in a heavy (= strong) swell. See related entries: Coastlines and the sea
  2. 2[singular] (formal) the curved shape of something, especially a part of the body the firm swell of her breasts
  3. 3[singular] a situation in which something increases in size, number, strength, etc. a growing swell of support a swell of pride see also groundswell
  4. 4[singular] (of music or noise) a gradual increase in the volume of something synonym crescendo
  5. 5(old-fashioned, informal) an important or fashionable person
  6. Word OriginOld English swellan (verb), of Germanic origin; related to German schwellen. Current senses of the noun date from the early 16th cent.; the informal adjectival use derives from noun sense (5) (late 18th cent.).Extra examples The boat rose and fell with the swell. The ship was bobbing up and down like a small boat in a heavy ocean swell. The trawler rolled wildly in the heavy swell. the gentle swell of her breasts Shells had been pounded by the Atlantic swells into fine sand. The boat was caught in a heavy swell. The tide receded, causing the swell to break.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: swell

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