Definition of swarm in English:

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Pronunciation: /swôrm/


1A large or dense group of insects, especially flying ones.
Example sentences
  • The visual effect evoked a gentle snowstorm or a swarm of insects, associations which, it must be added, the artist regards as entirely incidental.
  • Digital noise reduction causes people's faces and clothes to crawl, as though they were covered by a swarm of small insects.
  • Along the way, we remarked on the strange powdery consistency of the soil and marveled as we were surrounded by a swarm of infinitesimal white insects.
1.1A large number of honeybees that leave a hive en masse with a newly fertilized queen in order to establish a new colony.
Example sentences
  • When these queens mature into adults, they compete to head a new colony either by leaving with a secondary swarm or by becoming the queen in the established nest site.
  • Honey bees rarely swarm away from the hive and only sting if they are antagonised.
  • In 1957 swarms of the Africanized honeybee escaped the quarantine and began to establish colonies.
hive, flock, collection
1.2 (a swarm/swarms of) A large number of people or things: a swarm of journalists
More example sentences
  • We made our way among a swarm of bodies, until I was face to face with a woman who was sobbing uninhibitedly.
  • The opening minutes saw the Trinity goal a swarm of bodies as Emmaus launched several attacks that had Trinity on the back foot.
  • Loup shouted, and a swarm of vehicles and troops charged from the base into the Oppressor line.
crowd, multitude, horde, host, mob, gang, throng, mass, army, troop, herd, pack
literary myriad
1.3A series of similar-sized earthquakes occurring together, typically near a volcano.
Example sentences
  • The USGS has been monitoring St. Helens closely since Sept. 23, when swarms of tiny earthquakes were first recorded.
  • The sequential character is known as an earthquake swarm, a phenomenon of periodic tremors that can continue for months or even a year before quieting.
  • The swarm of very small earthquakes was the third and largest such episode of activity since the eruption in May-August, 2003.
1.4 Astronomy A large number of minor celestial objects occurring together in space, especially a dense shower of meteors.
Example sentences
  • Any optimism is, however, tempered by the fact that - should the Shiva hypothesis be true - the next swarm of Oort Cloud comets could even now be speeding towards the inner solar system.
  • Although he was not the first astronomer to propose such a comet swarm, the as-yet unconfirmed cloud is usually known as the ‘Oort Cloud’.
  • Since Earth is actually orbiting the Sun through a swarm of solar system debris, the answer has to be yes.


1 [no object] (Of insects) move in or form a swarm: (as adjective swarming) swarming locusts
More example sentences
  • A tethered cow is occasionally discovered, smothered in ants, asphyxiated and bleeding internally from where the insects swarmed in through its ears, mouth and nose.
  • ‘Insects swarm from the filter beds into foliage close by,’ Appleton said.
  • Yap felt the insects swarming over him, biting and stinging, scraping and clawing, and he realized he had just run out of options.
1.1(Of honeybees, ants, or termites) issue from the nest in large numbers with a newly fertilized queen in order to found new colonies: the bees had swarmed and left the hive
More example sentences
  • But for many in the South, the annual emergence of fertile, winged termites swarming furiously to scatter and search for mates isn't one of them.
  • Honeybees swarm, using hollows in trees which would otherwise be home to native birds or animals.
  • During their tests, honeybees swarmed areas where explosive residue was present.
2 [no object] Move somewhere in large numbers: protesters were swarming into the building
More example sentences
  • In what seemed like an unprecedented invasion, the ladybugs, or lady beetles, as they are also known, appeared everywhere, swarming around buildings and trees.
  • With views obscured by buildings, people swarmed on to the roads and headed towards open areas, such as Lendal Bridge and Museum Gardens, blocking the path of motorists and buses.
  • Police and federal agents swarmed in on that building today as part of a joint anti-terror operation.
flock, crowd, throng, surge, stream
2.1 (swarm with) (Of a place) be crowded or overrun with (moving people or things): the place was swarming with police
More example sentences
  • The Radisson hotel is swarming with medical crews, police officers.
  • The whole area is swarming with police, as is the subway station.
  • But then Vauxhall started swarming with police and before you could work out what was going on, the roads were being closed off.
be crowded with, be thronged with, be overrun with, be full of, abound in, be teeming with, be aswarm with, bristle with, be alive with, be crawling with, be infested with, overflow with, be prolific in, be abundant in
informal be thick with

Phrasal verbs

swarm up

Climb (something) rapidly by gripping it with one’s hands and feet, alternately hauling and pushing oneself upward: I swarmed up the mast
More example sentences
  • One of the more grandiose images, of a crowd swarming up the mount to hear a sermon from Christ as the sun slowly sets, wasn't planned and came about purely by accident.
  • Police then moved the exercise to Stormont, swarming up to the home of the power-sharing government in a train of armoured Land Rovers.
  • They swarmed up the levelled rock blockage, pushed through the gap that Tiffany had blasted, dragging at rock that crumbled at their touch.


Old English swearm (noun), of Germanic origin; related to German Schwarm, probably also to the base of Sanskrit svarati 'it sounds'.

Words that rhyme with swarm

conform, corm, dorm, form, forme, haulm, lukewarm, Maugham, misinform, norm, outperform, perform, shawm, storm, transform, underperform, warm

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: swarm

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