Definition of “sweep” - English Dictionary

“sweep” in English

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uk /swiːp/ us /swiːp/ swept, swept

sweep verb (MOVE)

C2 [ I + adv/prep ] to move, especially quickly and powerfully:

Everyone looked up as she swept into the room.
The fire swept (= spread quickly) through the house.
The National Party swept into power (= easily won the election) with a majority of almost 200.

[ T ] to quickly spread through and influence an area:

A 1970s fashion revival is sweeping Europe.

[ T ] to travel across all of an area, especially when looking for something:

American minesweepers are sweeping the Arabian Sea.

[ I usually + adv/prep ] If a road, river, range of mountains, set of steps, etc. sweeps in a particular direction, they follow a particular curved path:

The road sweeps down to the coast.

More examples

sweep verb (REMOVE)

B2 [ T usually + adv/prep ] to remove and/or take in a particular direction, especially in a fast and powerful way:

A large wave swept away half the sandcastle.
She swept the pile of papers and books into her bag.
The boat was swept out to sea (= away from land) by the tide.
Government troops swept aside the rebel forces (= caused them to move away from the area in which they were).


uk /swiːp/ us /swiːp/

sweep noun (CLEAN)

[ C usually singular ] UK the act of sweeping something to clean it:

I've given the kitchen floor a sweep (= I have swept it).

[ C ] old-fashioned for chimney sweep

(Definition of “sweep” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

“sweep” in American English

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us /swip/ past tense and past participle swept /swept/

sweep verb (CLEAN)

[ I/T ] to clean a floor or other surface by using a brush to collect the dirt into one place from which it can be removed:

[ T ] She sweeps the street in front of her house.
[ M ] The classroom is filthy – could you sweep it out?
[ I ] I swept under every piece of furniture.

sweep verb (REMOVE)

[ T always + adv/prep ] to remove or take something in a particular direction, esp. suddenly and with force:

She paused, sweeping a hair from her brow.
[ M ] Floodwaters were sweeping away gardens and driving residents to higher ground.

sweep verb (MOVE)

[ I/T ] to move quickly and sometimes forcefully:

[ I always + adv/prep ] He would sweep through the room shaking hands with everyone.
[ T ] Our headlights were sweeping the trees ahead.

sweep verb (WIN)

[ T ] to win all the parts of a competition:

New York swept their series with Vancouver, 3-0.

sweepnoun [ C ]

us /swip/

sweep noun [ C ] (MOVEMENT)

a large movement across an area:

the sweep of the clock’s hour hand
a police sweep

The sweep of an idea or piece of writing is the range of its subject:

He is aware of the epic sweep of this project.

sweep noun [ C ] (WIN)

the fact of winning everything that is available or all parts of a competition:

She prevented Republicans from making a clean sweep of the election by winning the race in District 27.

(Definition of “sweep” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

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