Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Acronyms, Idioms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


v. swept (swĕpt), sweep·ing, sweeps
1. To clean or clear, as of dirt, with a broom or brush: sweep a chimney.
2. To clear away with a broom or brush: swept snow from the steps.
3. To clear (a path or space) with a broom or brush.
a. To search thoroughly: The counselors swept the dormitory during the fire drill.
b. To search for and remove (electronic eavesdropping devices) from a place: swept the room for bugs.
5. To touch or brush lightly, as with a trailing garment: willow branches sweeping the ground.
6. To pass over or through a surface or medium with a continuous movement: He swept the sponge over the tile. The conductor swept her baton through the air.
7. To clear, drive, or convey with relentless force: The flood waters swept away everything in their path.
8. To wipe out at a single stroke. Often used with away: The incident in effect swept away all her dreams.
9. To remove or carry off with a swift brushing motion: swept the cards off the table; swept the child into his arms.
10. To move across or through swiftly or broadly: News of the lunar landing swept the country.
11. To pass quickly across, as when searching: His gaze swept the horizon.
12. To drag the bottom of (a body of water).
a. To win all games in (a series) or all stages of (a contest): swept the World Series.
b. To win overwhelmingly in: The opposition party swept the election.
1. To clean or clear a surface with a broom or brush.
a. To search an area for something.
b. To search for and remove electronic eavesdropping devices.
3. To move swiftly or broadly: The wind swept over the plain.
4. To move swiftly in a lofty manner, as if in a trailing robe: She swept by in silence.
5. To trail, as a long garment.
6. To extend gracefully, especially in a long curve: The hills sweep down to the sea.
7. To extend in a wide range: Searchlights swept across the sky.
1. A clearing out or removal with a broom or brush.
a. A thorough search of an area: a police sweep for drug dealers.
b. A search for and removal of electronic eavesdropping devices, as in a room.
a. A wide curving motion: a sweep of the arm.
b. A curve or contour that resembles the path of sweeping motion: the sweep of her hair.
4. An extent or stretch: a sweep of green lawn.
5. Range or scope: the broad sweep of history. See Synonyms at range.
6. Football An end run in which one or more linemen leave the line of scrimmage and block in advance of the ball carrier.
7. One who sweeps, especially a chimney sweep.
8. sweeps Sweepings.
a. The winning of all stages of a game or contest.
b. An overwhelming victory or success.
10. A long oar used to propel a boat.
11. A long pole attached to a pivot and used to raise or lower a bucket in a well.
12. sweeps(used with a sing. or pl. verb) Informal Sweepstakes.
a. sweeps The period each fall, winter, and spring when television ratings are accrued and studied and advertising rates are reset.
b. The national survey of local stations that is conducted to determine these ratings.
14. The steady motion of an electron beam across a cathode-ray tube.
sweep (someone) off (someone's) feet
To cause someone to be admiring or infatuated.
sweep under the rug
To avoid discussing or dealing with (something negative or troubling).

[Middle English swepen, perhaps from swepe, past tense of swopen, to sweep along; see swoop.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.



n. (used with a sing. or pl. v.)
1. a sweepstakes.
2. a period when the audience level for television or radio shows is determined in order to set advertising rates.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
He saw six sweeps at work, and in the stern, clearly outlined against the overhanging wall of white, a man who stood erect, gigantic, swaying with his weight on the steering-sweep.
He was too sick to be vitally interested, and, besides, he had a half feeling that it was all a dream; but he noted that the men were resting on their sweeps, while the woman and the steersman were intently watching the run of seas behind them.
they swept them away, those Halakazi; they swept them as a maid sweeps the dust of a hut, as the wind sweeps the withered leaves.
Once, the terror of this giddy sweep overpowered me, and for a while I clung on, hand and foot, weak and trembling, unable to search the sea for the missing boats or to behold aught of the sea but that which roared beneath and strove to overwhelm the Ghost.
After Jane Clayton, with rifle levelled at the breast of Rokoff, had succeeded in holding him off until the dugout in which she had taken refuge had drifted out upon the bosom of the Ugambi beyond the man's reach, she had lost no time in paddling to the swiftest sweep of the channel, nor did she for long days and weary nights cease to hold her craft to the most rapidly moving part of the river, except when during the hottest hours of the day she had been wont to drift as the current would take her, lying prone in the bottom of the canoe, her face sheltered from the sun with a great palm leaf.
It takes a lot of water, and running strong, to sweep the outside edge of a river clear.
His powerful tail was raised high to one side, and as he passed close above them he brought it down in one terrific sweep that crushed a green warrior's skull as though it had been an eggshell.
Their prodigious bounds and the shrill, screeching purr of their uncanny mouths were well calculated to confuse and terrorize their prey, so that as two of them leaped simultaneously from either side, the mighty sweep of those awful tails met with no resistance and two more green Martians went down to an ignoble death.
Lady Arabella looked like a soulless, pitiless being, not human, unless it revived old legends of transformed human beings who had lost their humanity in some transformation or in the sweep of natural savagery.
With care and vigilance we might do so safely, but it is not enough to sweep across Africa.
See here," continued he, drawing forth a small bottle and holding it before their eyes, "in this bottle I hold the small-pox, safely corked up; I have but to draw the cork, and let loose the pestilence, to sweep man, woman, and child from the face of the earth."
Here was old Yermil in a very long white smock, bending forward to swing a scythe; there was a young fellow, Vaska, who had been a coachman of Levin's, taking every row with a wide sweep. Here, too, was Tit, Levin's preceptor in the art of mowing, a thin little peasant.