Definition of swear in English:

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Pronunciation: /swɛː/

verb (swears, swearing, past swore /swɔː/; past participle sworn /swɔːn/)

1 [reporting verb] Make a solemn statement or promise undertaking to do something or affirming that something is the case: [with clause]: Maria made me swear I would never tell anyone I swear by all I hold dear that I had nothing to do with it [with direct speech]: ‘Never again,’ she swore, ‘will I be short of money’ [with object]: they were reluctant to swear allegiance
More example sentences
  • Hidden in the forest, Von Rothbart had secretly overheard Siegfried's promise, and he swore he would stop this love.
  • We were told we could choose to say swear or affirm at one point yet no alternative was given for the last line, which is ‘so help me God’.
  • I do solemnly swear that I will obey all laws commands and dictates of our leader - for he has lovely teeth.
promise, vow, promise under oath, solemnly promise, pledge oneself, give one's word, take an oath, swear an oath, swear on the Bible, give an undertaking, undertake, affirm, warrant, state, assert, declare, aver, proclaim, pronounce, profess, attest, guarantee;
Law  depose, make a deposition, bind oneself
rare asseverate
insist, avow, be emphatic, pronounce, declare, assert, maintain, contend, aver, emphasize, stress
invoke, appeal to, call as one's witness
1.1 [with object] Take (an oath): he forced them to swear an oath of loyalty to him
More example sentences
  • Once there, frightened of Injun Joe, they decided to swear an oath that they won't tell anyone what they just witnessed.
  • Anybody who wants to considered a freeman must swear an oath of loyalty.
  • Among them the fact that it was the judge and jury who swore an oath to render a true and just decision.
1.2 [with object] Take a solemn oath as to the truth of (a statement): I asked him if he would swear a statement to this effect
More example sentences
  • He swore a statutory declaration 26 March 1993 to say the companies were being deregistered.
  • People swear statutory declarations about all sorts of things.
  • The worker is the Commissioner that swore the declaration.
1.3 [with object] Make (someone) promise to observe a certain course of action: I’ve been sworn to secrecy
More example sentences
  • I have a great deal of power over them, but, like one of those comic-book heroines, I am sworn to use it only for good.
  • There's a great deal more that I wish could say, but I am sworn to secrecy.
  • After all, these millions belong to the stockholders, and board members are sworn to protect their money.
2 [no object] Use offensive language, especially as an expression of anger: Peter swore under his breath
More example sentences
  • Nearly everything you wanted to know about bad language, swearing, cursing, foul-mouthed expression - you get the picture - is here.
  • Intersting that 10% of people think the word God is swearing or very offensive language.
  • You have to be there to appreciate fully the effect of an old grey poet and a big grey cat swearing at one another in a language mix that's far from suitable for polite company.
curse, blaspheme, utter profanities, utter oaths, be foul-mouthed, use bad/foul language, be blasphemous, take the Lord's name in vain, swear like a trooper, damn
informal cuss, turn the air blue, eff and blind
archaic execrate
bad language, foul language, strong language;
profanity, obscenity, cursing, blaspheming, blasphemy, vilification, imprecation, curses, oaths, expletives, swear words, profanities, insults
technical coprolalia
informal cussing, effing and blinding, four-letter words


swear blind (or North American swear up and down)

informal Affirm something emphatically: his informant swore blind that the weapons were still there
More example sentences
  • From personal experience, every single one of my male and female friends who swore up and down that they'd never have children is now raising at least one kid, if not two.
  • It falls into the category of ‘edgy’ family movies, where the kids swore up and down and some violence was to be had.
  • Tony is a huge Patriots fan, a guy who swore up and down at the Super Bowl in New Orleans a few years back that New England was going to shock the world.

Phrasal verbs


swear by

informal Have or express great confidence in the use, value, or effectiveness of: Iris swears by her yoga
More example sentences
  • Are there doctors who swear by values that made medicine a profession quite different from others?
  • Wilson swears by the importance and value of a good oil analysis program.
  • And according to those who swear by its effects, unlike gymnastics, you don't have to do somersaults in this event.
express confidence in, have faith in, put one's faith in, trust, have every confidence in, believe in;
set store by, value
informal rate

swear someone in

Admit someone to a particular office or position by directing them to take a formal oath: he was sworn in as president on 10 July
More example sentences
  • Another former premier - the Free State's Winkie Direko - was not appointed to an executive position although she was sworn in as a national MP last week.
  • The first official act I had as secretary was to call the governor of California the day after I was sworn in to office and offer our help.
  • A brief statement issued by Goh's office said Lee will be sworn in at a ceremony at 8 p.m. on the day at the presidential palace.
install, instate, induct, invest, inaugurate, introduce, admit into office, institute, initiate;
appoint, put in, create;
ordain, consecrate, anoint;
enthrone, crown

swear off

informal Promise to abstain from: I’d sworn off alcohol
More example sentences
  • You will probably swear off drinking for the rest of your life and promise your first-born if you could just feel better.
  • This year I swore off booze, vowing to drink casually and infrequently.
  • He did all the right things by financial markets - swore off acquisitions, started paying dividends.
renounce, forswear, forgo, abjure, abstain from, go without, shun, avoid, eschew, steer clear of, give a wide berth to, have nothing to do with;
give up, dispense with, stop, cease, finish, discontinue, break off, drop
informal kick, quit, jack in

swear something out

US Law Obtain the issue of a warrant for arrest by making a charge on oath.

swear to

[usually with negative] Express one’s assurance that something is the case: I couldn’t swear to it, but I’m pretty sure it’s his writing
More example sentences
  • Tommy swore to prove him wrong and went on to win the world exhibition dancing title in Paris and the regional British championship six years running.
  • During this trip Norman writers maintain that he swore to support William's claim to the English throne.
  • I ask all of you that are against this war to keep supporting our troops who are doing their duty as they swore to do.



Pronunciation: /ˈswɛːrə/
Example sentences
  • Hulton said that when the pipes were laid in the ground nine years before he was told navvies were hard workers, hard drinkers, hard swearers, and hard kickers, but he did not believe it.
  • Ramsay is a prolific, near-conversational swearer, but the disgusting state of Tim's kitchen raises his ire to new heights.
  • He was an accomplished bushman, a great drinker and swearer, short-tempered and generous-hearted, a man not to be contained by parliamentary etiquette.


adjective ( informal)
Example sentences
  • I was particularly taken with Barry White loosing it like a sweary trooper during a trailer recording.
  • Only those with low tolerance to sweary words should look away.
  • Somehow, it turned into an Arsenal site, featuring sweary match reports for the interested Gooner in your life.


Old English swerian of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zweren, German schwören, also to answer.

  • This first meant ‘to make a solemn declaration’. The use of swear in connection with bad language came later, around the 15th century, as an extension of the idea of using a sacred name in an oath. Someone who swears a lot can be said to swear like a trooper. A trooper was originally a private soldier in a cavalry unit. By the 18th century these soldiers had developed a reputation for coarse behaviour and bad language. In his novel Pamela (1739–40), Samuel Richardson wrote: ‘She curses and storms at me like a Trooper.’ Answer (Old English) comes from the same root, and originally meant to rebut an accusation.

Words that rhyme with swear

affair, affaire, air, Altair, Althusser, Anvers, Apollinaire, Astaire, aware, Ayer, Ayr, bare, bear, bêche-de-mer, beware, billionaire, Blair, blare, Bonaire, cafetière, care, chair, chargé d'affaires, chemin de fer, Cher, Clair, Claire, Clare, commissionaire, compare, concessionaire, cordon sanitaire, couvert, Daguerre, dare, debonair, declare, derrière, despair, doctrinaire, éclair, e'er, elsewhere, ensnare, ere, extraordinaire, Eyre, fair, fare, fayre, Finisterre, flair, flare, Folies-Bergère, forbear, forswear, foursquare, glair, glare, hair, hare, heir, Herr, impair, jardinière, Khmer, Kildare, La Bruyère, lair, laissez-faire, legionnaire, luminaire, mal de mer, mare, mayor, meunière, mid-air, millionaire, misère, Mon-Khmer, multimillionaire, ne'er, Niger, nom de guerre, outstare, outwear, pair, pare, parterre, pear, père, pied-à-terre, Pierre, plein-air, prayer, questionnaire, rare, ready-to-wear, rivière, Rosslare, Santander, savoir faire, scare, secretaire, share, snare, solitaire, Soufrière, spare, square, stair, stare, surface-to-air, Tailleferre, tare, tear, their, there, they're, vin ordinaire, Voltaire, ware, wear, Weston-super-Mare, where, yeah

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