Definitions

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

  • transitive v. To turn aside or be turned aside from a straight course.
  • n. The act of swerving.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To stray; to wander; to rope.
  • v. To go out of a straight line; to deflect.
  • v. To wander from any line prescribed, or from a rule or duty; to depart from what is established by law, duty, custom, or the like; to deviate.
  • v. To bend; to incline.
  • v. To climb or move upward by winding or turning.
  • v. To turn aside or deviate to avoid impact.
  • v. of a projectile, to travel in a curved line

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To stray; to wander; to rope.
  • intransitive v. To go out of a straight line; to deflect.
  • intransitive v. To wander from any line prescribed, or from a rule or duty; to depart from what is established by law, duty, custom, or the like; to deviate.
  • intransitive v. To bend; to incline.
  • intransitive v. To climb or move upward by winding or turning.
  • transitive v. To turn aside.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To turn aside suddenly or quickly; turn suddenly aside from the direct course or aim: used of both physical and moral action.
  • To wander; rove; stray; roam; ramble.
  • To climb or move upward by winding or turning.
  • To turn aside; cause to change in course.
  • n. A turning aside.

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

  • n. an erratic deflection from an intended course
  • v. turn sharply; change direction abruptly
  • n. the act of turning aside suddenly

Etymologies

Middle English swerven, from Old English sweorfan, to rub, scour.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old English sweorfan (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • All kinds of atrocious policies -- from Lyndon Johnson's war on Vietnam to Jimmy Carter's midterm swerve rightward to Bill Clinton's neoliberal measures such as NAFTA, "welfare reform" and Wall Street deregulation -- were calamities facilitated by acquiescence or mild dissent from many left-leaning Democrats.

    Norman Solomon: Obama: Beyond Savior or Trickster

  • And if any of my officers swerve from the right and act otherwise than the Holy

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • The Ghoorka waved his hand impatiently, but I never guessed that he was telling me to keep further away; and as I wanted to get to Mrs. Urquhart's tent as quickly as possible, I did not swerve from the straight path which led to it.

    A Christmas Cake in Four Quarters

  • In deliberation Mr. LINCOLN was not hasty, nor premature; but when once he had taken his stand, he was the last man to swerve from the course marked out for himself.

    A Discourse on the Death of Abraham Lincoln

  • The servant, being anxious to remain in her mistress's service and gain her esteem, resolved not to swerve from the path of virtue.

    The Heptameron of Margaret, Queen of Navarre

  • After a brief conversation, finding her sentiments unchanged, and hearing from her lips a protestation that, though it were to cost her her life, she would never swerve from the principles she had professed at their last meeting, he exclaimed desperately, By God, Florida, your scruples shall not deprive me of the fruit of my toils.

    The Heptameron of Margaret, Queen of Navarre

  • The soldiery perceiving him, paused in their onset; he did not swerve from the bullets that passed near him, but rode immediately between the opposing lines.

    II.9

  • Raymond was to inspire them with his beneficial will, and the mechanism of society, once systematised according to faultless rules, would never again swerve into disorder.

    I.7

  • When persons, especially ministers, swerve from the great law of charity -- the end of the commandment, they will turn aside to vain jangling; when a man misses his end and scope, it is no wonder that every step he takes is out of the way.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume VI (Acts to Revelation)

  • But if all your data says there was no tree in the road, then the swerve is irrelevant, unless there is some reason to think your data wouldn’t pick up a tree in the road.

    Matthew Yglesias » Earnings Dropping, Energy Prices Rising

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Comments

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  • And who shall put her to this trial?-- Who but the man who has, as she thinks, already induced her in lesser points to swerve?

    Lovelace to Belford, Clarissa by Samuel Richardson

    December 10, 2007