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

  • n. A small piece of absorbent material attached to the end of a stick or wire and used for cleansing or applying medicine.
  • n. A specimen of mucus or other material removed with a swab.
  • n. A sponge or patch of absorbent material used to clean the bore of a firearm or cannon.
  • n. A mop used for cleaning floors or decks.
  • n. Slang A sailor.
  • n. Slang A lout.
  • transitive v. To use a swab on.
  • transitive v. To clean with a swab.
  • transitive v. To take a specimen from (a person) using a swab.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a small piece of soft, absorbent material, such as gauze, used to clean wounds, apply medicine, or take samples of body fluids. Often attached to a stick or wire to aid access.
  • n. A sample taken with a swab (1).
  • n. A piece of material used for cleaning or sampling other items like musical instruments or guns.
  • n. A mop, especially on a ship.
  • n. A sailor; see swabby.
  • v. To use a swab on something, or clean something with a swab

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A kind of mop for cleaning floors, the desks of vessels, etc., esp. one made of rope-yarns or threads.
  • n. A bit of sponge, cloth, or the like, fastened to a handle, for cleansing the mouth of a sick person, applying medicaments to deep-seated parts, etc.
  • n. An epaulet.
  • n. A cod, or pod, as of beans or pease.
  • n. A sponge, or other suitable substance, attached to a long rod or handle, for cleaning the bore of a firearm.
  • transitive v. To clean with a mop or swab; to wipe when very wet, as after washing.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To clean with water and a swab, especially the decks of ships.
  • Same as swap.
  • n. A utensil for cleaning.
  • n. The epaulet of a naval officer.
  • n. A bit of sponge, cloth, or the like fastened to a handle, for cleansing the mouth of the sick, or for giving them nourishment. Compare probang.
  • n. In founding, a small tapering tuft of hemp, charged with water, for touching up the edges of molds.
  • n. An awkward, clumsy fellow.
  • n. Same as swad.
  • n. An abbreviation of Swabia or Swabian.

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

  • n. implement consisting of a small piece of cotton that is used to apply medication or cleanse a wound or obtain a specimen of a secretion
  • v. apply (usually a liquid) to a surface
  • v. wash with a swab or a mop
  • n. cleaning implement consisting of absorbent material fastened to a handle; for cleaning floors


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

Back-formation from swabber, mop for a ship's deck (from obsolete Dutch *zwabber, from zwabben, to mop) or from obsolete Dutch swabbe, mop (from Middle Dutch).


  • For females, a cotton swab is briefly placed inside your vagina by you or your healthcare provider.


  • Scene-of-crime material (bloodstains, hairs or a vaginal swab from a rape victim) are typed and matched to a DNA sample from the suspect.

    Archive 2004-12-01

  • Yes | No | Report from diverdude41 wrote 36 weeks 2 days ago there are so many factors to think about when shooting a rifle and trying to zero. the loads, rate of twist, scope, and mounts temp of the air, and the barrel after shooting. .my recommendation is what some of the responses have already said. make 20 rounds of your test load, fire 5 rds, and let the barrel cool commpletly. swab from the breech end to remove any fouling, and try another 5 rds repeat this process 2 more times and see where you are at. remember, the first round out of you barrel will be cold ..

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  • They had a positive nasal swab, which is a different -- the only indication that we have from that nasal swab is that they were exposed.

    CNN Transcript Oct 17, 2001

  • "Splutter and oons!" cried the man, interrupting me, "who be you a-calling swab, I'd like to know!"

    Humphrey Bold A Story of the Times of Benbow

  • The swab is a paper stick and double tipped with 100% cotton.

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  • It is necessary that the democratic and pragmatic America and the Europeans chancelleries raise the question of how long this kind of swab measures (with very high costs) supporting dictatorial regimes, could resist before an explosion that could originate instability and global insecurity?

    Amir Madani: ElBaradei Against the Mummified Power of Pharaoh

  • Frequently the pernicious "swab" is used to soak and so strengthen joint outlines of the sand before drawing patterns, in such cases as this.

    Scientific American Supplement, No. 1157, March 5, 1898

  • On shore, notwithstanding the lenient view taken of such accidents, an indictment of manslaughter, if not of murder, would have assuredly followed the offence; and though in the circumstances it is doubtful whether any jury would have found the culprits guilty of the capital crime, yet the alternative verdict, with its consequent imprisonment and disgrace, held out anything but a rosy prospect to the young officer who had still his second "swab" to win.

    The Press-Gang Afloat and Ashore

  • Whether through age, fault, misfortune or lack of influence in high places, the officers who directed it were generally disappointed men, service derelicts whose chances of ever sporting a second "swab," or of again commanding a ship, had practically vanished.

    The Press-Gang Afloat and Ashore


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