Definitions

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

  • n. A seasonally flooded bottomland with more woody plants than a marsh and better drainage than a bog.
  • n. A lowland region saturated with water.
  • n. A situation or place fraught with difficulties and imponderables: a financial swamp.
  • transitive v. To drench in or cover with or as if with water.
  • transitive v. To inundate or burden; overwhelm: She was swamped with work.
  • transitive v. Nautical To fill (a ship or boat) with water to the point of sinking it.
  • intransitive v. To become full of water or sink.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A piece of wet, spongy land; low ground saturated with water; soft, wet ground which may have a growth of certain kinds of trees, but is unfit for agricultural or pastoral purposes.
  • n. A type of wetland that stretches for vast distances, and is home to many creatures who have adapted specifically to that environment.
  • v. To drench or fill with water.
  • v. To overwhelm; to make too busy or overrun capacity.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Wet, spongy land; soft, low ground saturated with water, but not usually covered with it; marshy ground away from the seashore.
  • transitive v. To plunge or sink into a swamp.
  • transitive v. To cause (a boat) to become filled with water; to capsize or sink by whelming with water.
  • transitive v. Fig.: To plunge into difficulties and perils; to overwhelm; to ruin; to wreck.
  • intransitive v. To sink or stick in a swamp; figuratively, to become involved in insuperable difficulties.
  • intransitive v. To become filled with water, as a boat; to founder; to capsize or sink; figuratively, to be ruined; to be wrecked.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A piece of wet, spongy land; low ground saturated with water; soft, wet ground which may have a growth of certain kinds of trees, but is unfit for agricultural or pastoral purposes.
  • n. In coal-mining, a local depression in a coal-bed, in which water may collect.
  • n. A shallow lake.
  • To plunge, whelm, or sink in a swamp, or as in a swamp.
  • To plunge into inextricable difficulties; overwhelm; ruin; hence, to outbalance; exceed largely in numbers.
  • Nautical, to overset, sink, or cause to become filled, as a boat, in water; whelm.
  • To cut out (a road) into a forest. See swamper.
  • To sink or stick in a swamp; hence, to be plunged in inextricable difficulties.
  • To become filled with water and sink, as a boat; founder; hence, to be ruined; be wrecked.
  • Thin; slender; lean.
  • In lumbering, to clear (the ground) of under-brush, fallen trees, and other obstructions preparatory to constructing a logging-road or opening out a gutter-road.

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

  • n. a situation fraught with difficulties and imponderables
  • n. low land that is seasonally flooded; has more woody plants than a marsh and better drainage than a bog
  • v. fill quickly beyond capacity; as with a liquid
  • v. drench or submerge or be drenched or submerged

Etymologies

Perhaps of Low German origin .
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From a fusion of Middle English swam ("swamp, muddy pool, bog, marsh", also "fungus, mushroom"), from Old English swamm ("mushroom, fungus, sponge") and Middle English sompe ("marsh, morass"), from Middle Dutch somp, sump ("marsh, swamp") or Middle Low German sump ("marsh, swamp"), from Old Saxon *sump (“swamp, marsh”); all from Proto-Germanic *swumpuz, *swampuz, *swambaz, *swammaz (“sponge, tree-fungus”), from Proto-Indo-European *swombh- (“sponge, tree-fungus, swamp”). Cognate with Dutch zwamp ("swamp, marsh, fen"), Middle Low German swamp ("sponge, mushroom"), Dutch zump, somp ("swamp, lake, marshy place"), German Sumpf ("swamp"), Swedish sump ("swamp"). Related also to Dutch zwam ("fungus, punk, tinder"), German Schwamm ("mushroom, fungus, sponge"), Swedish svamp ("mushroom, fungus, sponge"), Icelandic svampur, svepper ("fungus"), Gothic  (swumsl, "a ditch"). Related to sump, swim. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • It was legendary producer Jerry Wexler who coined the phrase "swamp" to describe the music coming out of studios in Macon, Ga., and Muscle Shoals, Ala.

    Rapping With the Original Doggfather

  • Boreal forrest on flat land or a Florida swamp is a bad place to be if you don't know how to find your way around in the woods.

    What is your greatest fear while in the woods?

  • But volunteer Ed Mendel believes they were not able to go where he can on what he calls swamp thing, a vehicle designed for hunting pigs and deer in the Everglades and modified for rescue work.

    CNN Transcript Oct 4, 2005

  • To do that Kappe's team is taking various routes -- most of which involve breeding large numbers of these dangerous animals in warm, soupy trays in what he calls the "swamp room."

    Reuters: Press Release

  • The author describes the use of specific terms and the problems associated with them, beginning with the word swamp, which is followed by creek, folly, tump, and gurnet.

    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly Vol XXIII No 4

  • To improve upon nature by draining a malarial swamp is permitted him; to improve upon nature's methods and breed swifter carrier-pigeons and finer horses than she has ever bred is also permitted; but to improve upon nature in the breeding of the human, that is a sacrilege which cannot be condoned!

    The Kempton-Wace Letters

  • We came out on the other side into a narrow strip of forest that separated the blueberry swamp from the great swamp that extended westward.

    CHAPTER XVII

  • A swamp is an accommodating environment for the deaf and arrogant.

    About: Blinded by Science

  • I agree that wading into the political swamp is demeaning.

    Your Right Hand Thief

  • I couldn†™ t think of a better example of how out of whack the LLL Mo0b@t fever swamp is with the rest of the country.

    Think Progress » ThinkFast: May 16, 2006

Comments

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  • To sink or stick in a swamp; figuratively, to become involved in insuperable difficulties.

    February 22, 2011