Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Topic: NATURE

Date: 1200-1300
Origin: Probably from sweop, the past tense of Old English swapan 'to sweep'

sweep

1 verb
     
sweep1 S3 W3 past tense and past participle swept
1

clean something

[transitive]DHC to clean the dust, dirt etc from the floor or ground, using a brush with a long handle [= brush]:
Bert swept the path in front of the house.
sweep something off/out/up etc
Will you sweep the leaves off the patio?
2

push something somewhere

[transitive always + adverb/preposition] to move things from a surface with a brushing movement:
I swept the papers quickly into the drawer.
3

push somebody/something with force

[transitive always + adverb/preposition] to force someone or something to move in a particular direction:
The windsurfer was swept out to sea.
Jessie was swept along by the angry crowd.
4

group moves

[intransitive always + adverb/preposition] if a group of people or animals sweep somewhere, they quickly move there together
sweep through/along etc
The crowd swept through the gates of the stadium.
5

wind/waves etc

[intransitive,transitive always + adverb/preposition]DN if winds, waves, fire etc sweep a place or sweep through, across etc a place, they move quickly and with a lot of force:
Thunderstorms swept the country.
sweep across/through etc
90 mile per hour winds swept across the plains.
6

become popular

[intransitive,transitive always + adverb/preposition] written if an idea, feeling, or activity sweeps a group of people or a place, it quickly becomes very popular or common
sweep the country/nation/state etc
a wave of nationalism sweeping the country
sweep across/through etc
the latest craze sweeping through the teenage population
7

feeling

[intransitive always + adverb/preposition] if a feeling sweeps over you, you are suddenly affected by it
sweep over
A feeling of isolation swept over me.
8

person

[intransitive always + adverb/preposition] if someone sweeps somewhere, they move quickly and confidently, especially because they are impatient or like to seem important
sweep into/through etc
Eva swept into the meeting and demanded to know what was going on.
9

politics

[intransitive and transitive] to win an election easily and in an impressive way
sweep to power/victory
Nixon and Agnew swept to victory with 47 million votes.
Herrera was swept into office two years ago.
10

sports

[transitive] American English to win all of the games in a series of games against a particular team:
Houston swept Orlando to become NBA champions.
11

sweep the board

British English to win everything that can be won, especially very easily
12

form a curve

[intransitive always + adverb/preposition]AV to form a long curved shape
sweep down/along etc
The hills swept down to the sea.
13

look

[intransitive,transitive always + adverb/preposition] to look quickly at all of something:
The General's eyes swept the horizon.
sweep over/across/around etc
the beam from the lighthouse sweeping across the sea
14

sweep somebody off their feet

to make someone feel suddenly and strongly attracted to you in a romantic way:
Jill's been swept off her feet by an older man.
15

sweep/brush something under the carpet

also sweep something under the rug American English to try to keep something a secret, especially something you have done wrong
16

hair

[transitive always + adverb/preposition] to pull your hair back from your face
sweep something back/up
Kerry swept her hair back into a ponytail.

sweep somebody along

phrasal verb
to sweep someone away

sweep something ↔ aside

phrasal verb
to refuse to pay attention to something someone says:
Branson swept all the objections aside.

sweep somebody/something away

phrasal verb
1

sweep something ↔ away

to completely destroy something or make something disappear:
houses swept away by the floods
A sudden feeling of grief swept all my anger away.
2

sweep somebody away

also sweep somebody along [usually passive] if a feeling or idea sweeps you away or along, you are so excited that you do not think clearly or you forget about other things:
We couldn't help being swept away by Bette's enthusiasm.
19th century scientists were swept along on the tide of Darwin's theories.

sweep up

phrasal verb
1DHC to clean the dust, dirt etc from the floor or ground using a brush with a long handle:
The janitor was just sweeping up as I left the building.
sweep something ↔ up
Jan was sweeping up the bits of paper and broken glass.
2

sweep sb↔ up

to pick someone up in one quick movement:
Harriet swept the child up in her arms and hugged her.
WORD FOCUS: clean WORD FOCUS: clean
wash with soap and water
wipe
with a damp cloth
brush
with a brush to remove the dirt
polish
by rubbing with a cloth
scrub
by rubbing hard
sweep
with a broom
mop
with water and a mop (a tool with a long handle)
vacuum
also hoover British English with a machine that sucks up dust
disinfect
using chemicals to kill germs
cleanse
to clean your skin using a special cream
rinse
to put water on to remove dirt or soap
dust
to remove dust, for example with a cloth


See also
clean
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