Etymology: Middle English swepen; akin to Old English swāpan to sweep, Old High German sweifen to wander
Date: 14th century
a. to remove from a surface with or as if with a broom or brush <swept the crumbs from the table> b. to destroy completely ; wipe out — usually used with away <everything she cherished, might be swept away overnight — Louis Bromfield> c. to remove or take with a single continuous forceful action <swept the books off the desk> d. to remove from sight or consideration <the problem can't be swept under the rug> e. to drive or carry along with irresistible force <a wave of protest that swept the opposition into office> 2. a. to clean with or as if with a broom or brush b. to clear by repeated and forcible action c. to move across or along swiftly, violently, or overwhelmingly <fire swept the business district — American Guide Series: Maryland> d. to win an overwhelming victory in or on <sweep the elections> e. to win all the games or contests of <sweep a double-header> <sweep a series> 3. to touch in passing with a swift continuous movement 4. to trace or describe the locus or extent of (as a line, circle, or angle) 5. to cover the entire range of <his eyes swept the horizon> intransitive verb 1. a. to clean a surface with or as if with a broom b. to move swiftly, forcefully, or devastatingly <the wind swept through the treetops> 2. to go with stately or sweeping movements <proudly swept into the room> 3. to move or extend in a wide curve or range II. noun Date: 1548 1. something that sweeps or works with a sweeping motion: as a. a long pole or timber pivoted on a tall post and used to raise and lower a bucket in a well b. a triangular cultivator blade that cuts off weeds under the soil surface c. a windmill sail 2. a. an instance of sweeping; especially a clearing out or away with or as if with a broom b. the removal from the table in one play in casino of all the cards by pairing or combining c. an overwhelming victory d. a winning of all the contests or prizes in a competition e. a wide-ranging search of an area (as by police) 3. a. a movement of great range and force b. a curving or circular course or line c. the compass of a sweeping movement ; scope d. a broad unbroken area or extent <a sweep of wildflowers> e. an end run in football in which one or more linemen pull back and run interference for the ballcarrier 4. chimney sweep 5. sweepstakes 6. obliquity with respect to a reference line <sweep of an airplane wing>; especially sweepback 7. plural a television ratings period during which surveys are taken to determine advertising rates Synonyms: see range
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.