Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A large number of insects or other small organisms, especially when in motion.
  • n. A group of bees with a queen bee in migration to establish a new colony. See Synonyms at flock1.
  • n. An aggregation of persons or animals, especially when in turmoil or moving in mass: A swarm of friends congratulated him.
  • n. A number of similar geologic phenomena or features occurring closely within a given period or place: a swarm of earthquakes.
  • intransitive v. To move or emerge in a swarm.
  • intransitive v. To leave a hive as a swarm. Used of bees.
  • intransitive v. To move or gather in large numbers.
  • intransitive v. To be overrun; teem: a riverbank swarming with insects. See Synonyms at teem1.
  • transitive v. To fill with a crowd: sailors swarming the ship's deck.
  • intransitive v. To climb by gripping with the arms and legs.
  • transitive v. To climb (something) in this manner.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A large number of insects, especially when in motion or (for bees) migrating to a new colony.
  • n. A mass of people or animals in turmoil.
  • v. To move as a swarm.
  • v. To teem, or be overrun with insects.
  • v. To fill a place as a swarm.
  • v. To overwhelm as by an opposing army.
  • v. To climb by gripping with arms and legs.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A large number or mass of small animals or insects, especially when in motion.
  • n. Especially, a great number of honeybees which emigrate from a hive at once, and seek new lodgings under the direction of a queen; a like body of bees settled permanently in a hive.
  • n. Hence, any great number or multitude, as of people in motion, or sometimes of inanimate objects.
  • intransitive v. To climb a tree, pole, or the like, by embracing it with the arms and legs alternately. See shin.
  • intransitive v. To collect, and depart from a hive by flight in a body; -- said of bees.
  • intransitive v. To appear or collect in a crowd; to throng together; to congregate in a multitude.
  • intransitive v. To be crowded; to be thronged with a multitude of beings in motion.
  • intransitive v. To abound; to be filled (with).
  • intransitive v. To breed multitudes.
  • transitive v. To crowd or throng.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To move in a swarm or in large numbers, as insects and other small creatures; specifically, to collect and depart from a hive by flight in a body, as bees.
  • To appear or come together in a crowd or confused multitude; congregate or throng in multitudes; crowd together with confused movements.
  • To be crowded; be overrun; be thronged with a multitude; abound; be filled with a number or crowd of objects.
  • To breed multitudes.
  • To crowd or throng.
  • To cause to breed in swarms.
  • To climb a tree, pole, or the like by embracing it with the arms and legs; shin: often with up.
  • To climb, as a tree, by embracing it with the arms and legs, and scrambling up.
  • n. A large number or body of insects or other small creatures, particularly when moving in a confused mass.
  • n. Especially, a cluster or great number of honey-bees which emigrate from a hive at once, and seek new lodgings under the direction of a queen; also, a like body of bees settled permanently in a hive.
  • n. In general, a great number or multitude; particularly, a multitude of people in motion: often used of inanimate objects: as, a swarm of meteors.
  • n. Synonyms Crowd, throng, cluster.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. move in large numbers
  • n. a group of many things in the air or on the ground
  • v. be teeming, be abuzz
  • n. a moving crowd

Etymologies

Middle English, group of bees, from Old English swearm.
Origin unknown.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English swarm, from Old English swearm ("swarm, multitude"), from Proto-Germanic *swarmaz (“swarm, dizziness”), from Proto-Indo-European *swer- (“to buzz, hum”). Cognate with Scots swarm ("swarm"), Dutch zwerm ("swarm"), German Schwarm ("swarm"), Danish sværm ("swarm"), Swedish svärm ("swarm"), Icelandic svarmur ("tumult, swarm"), Latin susurrus ("whispering, humming"), Lithuanian surma ("a pipe"), Russian свирель (svirel', "a pipe, reed"). (Wiktionary)
From Middle English swarmen, swermen, from Old English swierman ("to swarm"), from Proto-Germanic *swarmijanan (“to swarm”). Cognate with Scots swairm, swerm ("to swarm"), Dutch zwermen ("to swarm"), German schwärmen ("to swarm"), Danish sværme ("to swarm"), Swedish svärma ("to swarm"). (Wiktionary)

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  • "Ernst's fingers were pressed hard on the trigger guard.
    the machine gun went off. The swarm of bullets drew half a heart on the plate-glass window. The window cracked and blew in.
    It splintered into pieces of glass the size of dinner plates. Just then Kasper heard the wind."
    - 'The Quiet Girl', Peter Høeg.

    March 19, 2008