AskDefine | Define swallow

Dictionary Definition



1 a small amount of liquid food; "a sup of ale" [syn: sup]
2 the act of swallowing; "one swallow of the liquid was enough"; "he took a drink of his beer and smacked his lips" [syn: drink, deglutition]
3 small long-winged songbird noted for swift graceful flight and the regularity of its migrations


1 pass through the esophagus as part of eating or drinking; "Swallow the raw fish--it won't kill you!" [syn: get down]
2 engulf and destroy; "The Nazis swallowed the Baltic countries"
3 enclose or envelop completely, as if by swallowing; "The huge waves swallowed the small boat and it sank shortly thereafter" [syn: immerse, swallow up, bury, eat up]
4 utter indistinctly; "She swallowed the last words of her speech"
5 take back what one has said; "He swallowed his words" [syn: take back, unsay, withdraw]
6 keep from expressing; "I swallowed my anger and kept quiet"
7 tolerate or accommodate oneself to; "I shall have to accept these unpleasant working conditions"; "I swallowed the insult"; "She has learned to live with her husband's little idiosyncracies" [syn: accept, live with]
8 believe or accept without questioning or challenge; "Am I supposed to swallow that story?"

User Contributed Dictionary



  • a UK /ˈswɒləʊ/, /"swQl@U/
  • a US /ˈswɑ.loʊ/
  • Rhymes: -ɒləʊ

Etymology 1

swelgan, from Germanic. Cognate with Dutch zwelgen, German schwelgen, Swedish svälja.


  1. To cause to pass from the mouth into the stomach.
    Try not to swallow too much toothpaste.
    The duck swallowed the frog.
  2. To take food down into the stomach; to make the muscular contractions of the oesophagous which this entails.
    I swallowed nervously, wondering who was outside the window.
  3. To take in, to consume, to absorb or cause to disappear.
    Any extra money will be swallowed up by the mortgage repayments.
  4. To believe or accept.
    I find his excuses a little hard to swallow.
Related terms
to cause pass from the mouth into the stomach
to make muscular contractions of the oesophagous
  • Finnish: nielaista
to take in, to consume
  • Finnish: niellä
to believe or accept
  • Finnish: niellä

Etymology 2

Late swelg, from Germanic (related to Etymology 1, above).


  1. A deep chasm or abyss in the earth.
  2. The amount swallowed in one gulp; the act of swallowing.
    He took the aspirin with a single swallow of water.
amount swallowed
  • Afrikaans: sluk
  • Bosnian: gutljaj
  • Croatian: gutljaj
  • Finnish: nielaus, kulaus (of liquid)
  • Serbian: гутљај, gutljaj

Etymology 3

swealwe, from Germanic. Cognate with Dutch zwaluw, German Schwalbe, Swedish svala.


  1. A small, migratory bird of the Hirundinidae family with long, pointed, moon-shaped wings and a forked tail which feeds on the wing by catching insects.
Derived terms

Extensive Definition

The swallows and martins are a group of passerine birds in the family Hirundinidae which are characterised by their adaptation to aerial feeding. Swallow is also used in Europe as a synonym for the Barn Swallow.
This family comprises two subfamilies: Pseudochelidoninae (the river martins of the genus Pseudochelidon) and Hirundininae (all other swallows and martins). Within the Hirundiniae, the name "martin" tends to be used for the squarer-tailed species, and the name "swallow" for the more fork-tailed species; however, there is no scientific distinction between these two groups.
It is believed that this family originated in Africa as hole-nesters; Africa still has the greatest diversity of species.
Pairs of mated swallows are monogamous, and pairs of non-migratory species often stay near their breeding area all year, though the nest site is defended most vigorously during the breeding season. Migratory species often return to the same breeding area each year, and may select same nest site if they were previously successful in that location. First-year breeders generally select a nesting site close to where they were born and raised.
Most species hunt over open country or near water.
Swallows are able to produce many different calls or songs, which are used to express excitement, to communicate with others of the same species, during courtship, or as an alarm when a predator is in the area. Begging calls are used by the young when soliciting food from their parents. The typical song of swallows is a simple, sometimes musical twittering.

Species in taxonomic order



External links

  • Swallows Nest Live Feed Live feed of a Swallows nest located in the Tipperary Institute, Tipperary Ireland.
  • Swallow videos on the Internet Bird Collection
  • paper [ The evolution of nest construction in swallows (Hirundinidae) is associated with the decrease of clutch size] in Linzer Biologische Beiträge
swallow in Afrikaans: Swael
swallow in Arabic: سنونو
swallow in Bulgarian: Лястовицови
swallow in Catalan: Hirundínid
swallow in Czech: Vlaštovkovití
swallow in Danish: Svaler
swallow in German: Schwalben
swallow in Spanish: Hirundinidae
swallow in Esperanto: Hirundo
swallow in French: Hirondelle
swallow in Irish: Fáinleog
swallow in Korean: 제비과
swallow in Croatian: Lastavice
swallow in Ido: Hirundo
swallow in Ossetian: Зæрватыкк
swallow in Italian: Hirundinidae
swallow in Hebrew: סנונית
swallow in Haitian: Irondèl
swallow in Kurdish: Dûvmeqesk
swallow in Luxembourgish: Schmuebelen
swallow in Lithuanian: Kregždiniai
swallow in Hungarian: Fecskefélék
swallow in Malay (macrolanguage): Burung layang-layang
swallow in Dutch: Zwaluwen
swallow in Cree: Kautshishtunitshesht
swallow in Japanese: ツバメ科 (Sibley)
swallow in Norwegian: Svalefamilien
swallow in Occitan (post 1500): Hirundinidae
swallow in Polish: Jaskółkowate
swallow in Portuguese: Andorinha
swallow in Romanian: Rândunică
swallow in Russian: Ласточковые
swallow in Sicilian: Hirundo rustica
swallow in Finnish: Pääskyt
swallow in Swedish: Svalor
swallow in Thai: นกนางแอ่น
swallow in Vietnamese: Họ Nhạn
swallow in Turkish: Kırlangıç
swallow in Ukrainian: Ластівка
swallow in Chinese: 燕科

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

abide, abjure, ablate, absorb, accede, accept, accept for gospel, accept implicitly, acquiesce, allow, and sinker, antelope, arrow, assent, assimilate, back down, back out, backwater, be a sucker, be agreeable, be certain, be taken in, bear with, beard, believe, believe without reservation, bite, bleed white, blue darter, blue streak, bolus, brook, burn up, buy, cannonball, champ, chaw, chew, chomp, climb down, comply, conquer, consent, consume, control, courser, crawfish out, credit, cud, dart, deny, deplete, devour, digest, disavow, disclaim, disown, dispatch, dispose of, disregard, down, drain, drain of resources, drink, drinking, drop, eagle, eat, eat crow, eat humble pie, eat up, eating, electricity, endure, engorge, engorgement, engulf, engulfment, erode, exhaust, expend, express train, face the music, fall for, finish, finish off, flash, forswear, fumble, gazelle, get away with, get down, give faith to, gnash, go, go along with, go for, gob, gobble, gobble up, greased lightning, greyhound, gulp, gulp down, gulping, guzzle, hare, ignore, imbibe, imbibition, impoverish, ingest, ingestion, ingurgitate, ingurgitation, jet plane, knock under, knuckle down, knuckle under, lap up, light, lightning, line, live with it, mercury, morsel, mouthful, muddle, munch, murmur, mutter, nibble, nip, not resist, obey, overcome, pack away, pocket, pocket the affront, put away, put faith in, quaff, quicksilver, quid, quilt, recant, receive, relent, renege, renounce, repress, repudiate, resign, retract, revoke, rocket, scared rabbit, set store by, shot, sip, slurp, smother, snap, spend, squander, stand, stifle, stomach, streak, streak of lightning, striped snake, submit, succumb, suck dry, sup, suppress, surround, swallow an insult, swallow anything, swallow hook, swallow it, swallow the pill, swallow up, swallow whole, swallowing, swig, swill, swill down, swing at, take, take back, take down, take for granted, take in, take it, take on faith, take on trust, take stock in, take the bait, thought, thunderbolt, tolerate, torrent, toss, trust, tuck in, tumble for, turn aside provocation, unsay, use up, waste away, wear away, wind, withdraw, wolf down
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