v. swelled, swelled or swol·len (swōlən), swell·ing, swells
1. To increase in size or volume as a result of internal pressure; expand.
a. To increase in force, size, number, or degree: Membership in the club swelled.
b. To grow in loudness or intensity: "The din in front swelled to a tremendous chorus" (Stephen Crane).
3. To bulge out, as a sail.
a. To rise or extend above the surrounding level, as clouds.
b. To rise in swells, as the sea.
a. To be or become filled or puffed up, as with pride, arrogance, or anger.
b. To rise from within: Rage swelled within me.
1. To cause to increase in volume, size, number, degree, or intensity: The governor's full public disclosure only swelled the chorus of protests.
2. To fill with emotion.
a. The act or process of swelling.
b. The condition of being swollen.
2. A swollen part; a bulge or protuberance.
3. A long wave on water that moves continuously without breaking.
4. A rise in the land; a rounded elevation.
5. Informal One who is fashionably dressed or socially prominent: society swells.
a. A crescendo followed by a gradual diminuendo.
b. The sign indicating such a crescendo.
c. A device on an instrument, such as an organ or harpsichord, for regulating volume.
adj. swell·er, swell·est
1. Fashionably elegant; stylish.
2. Excellent; wonderful: had a swell time.
[Middle English swellen, from Old English swellan.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.