swear

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swear like a sailor

To use profanities or vulgar language very freely and fluently. (An allusion to the rough language presumed to be used by military personnel.) My little sister has been swearing like a sailor ever since she started learning bad words. My granny is the sweetest old lady you'll ever meet, but she swears like a sailor when she gets on the topic of something or someone she doesn't like.
See also: like, sailor, swear

swear on (one's) mother's grave

To make a very serious, solemn pledge, especially that one is telling the truth. Janet has sworn on her mother's grave that she wasn't the one to betray me, and I believe her. I swear on my mother's grave that if I have a chance to help your campaign, I will.
See also: grave, on, swear

swear a blue streak

To use profane language with great rapidity and intensity. My dad swore a blue streak after he found out I'd put a dent in his car.
See also: blue, streak, swear

swear at someone or something

to curse someone or something. Please don't swear at the children. Scott swore at the police station as he drove by.
See also: swear

swear by someone or something

 
1. Lit. to utter an oath on someone or something. I swear by Jupiter that I will be there on time. She swore by her sainted mother that she would never do it again. The sheriff swore by his badge that he would lock her up if she ever did it again.
2. Fig. to announce one's full faith and trust in someone or something. I would swear by Roger any time. He is a great guy, and he tells the truth. I swear by this computer. It has always served me well.
See also: swear

swear like a trooper

to curse and swear with great facility. (The trooper here refers to a soldier.) Mrs. Wilson was known to swear like a trooper on occasion. The clerk started swearing like a trooper, and the customer started crying.
See also: like, swear

swear off (something)

to pledge to avoid or abstain from something. I've sworn off desserts. I am on a diet. No dessert for me. I've sworn off.
See also: off, swear

swear on a stack of Bibles

 and swear on one's mother's grave
to state something very earnestly, pledging to tell the truth. (~ a Stack of Bibles refers in an exaggerated way to swearing to tell the truth in court by placing one's hand on a Bible.) I swear on a stack of Bibles that I am telling the truth. Of course, I'm telling the truth. I swear on my mother's grave!
See also: Bible, of, on, stack, swear

swear someone in (as something)

to administer an oath to someone who then officially begins in office. The judge swore Alice in as street commissioner. The judge swore in Alice as the new director.
See also: swear

swear someone to something

to cause someone to take an oath pledging something, such as silence or secrecy, about something. I swore Larry to secrecy, but he told anyway. We were sworn to silence about the new product.
See also: swear

swear something out against someone

to file a criminal complaint against someone. Walter swore a warrant out against Jeff. He swore out a warrant against Tony.
See also: out, swear

swear something to someone

to pledge or promise something to someone. I had to swear my allegiance to the general before I could become one of his bodyguards. We swore our loyalty to our country.
See also: swear

swear to something

to claim that what one says is absolutely true. It is true. I swear to it. I think I have remembered it all, but I couldn't swear to it.
See also: swear

swear (up)on someone or something

to take an oath on someone or something. (Upon is formal and less commonly used than on.) He swore upon the Bible to tell the truth. I swear on the memory of my sainted mother that I am telling the truth.
See also: on, swear

swear by something

to strongly believe in something Though there's no scientific evidence for this method of finding water, some farmers swear by it. Some teachers swear by stickers as a teaching tool and use them to teach kids everything.
See also: swear

swear somebody in

also swear in somebody
to get a formal promise from someone to be honest A ceremony to swear in the new governor took place Wednesday. The witness took the stand after the court clerk swore her in.
See also: swear

swear off something

to decide to stop doing or using something He says he has sworn off candy. She won $10,000 on the slots and was so shocked, she swore off gambling completely.
See also: off, swear

swear up and down

to say as strongly as possible He swore up and down that he didn't know the guy at all.
Etymology: based on the meaning of swear on the Bible or sometimes swear on a stack of Bibles (to promise that a statement is true)
See also: and, down, swear, up

swear blind

  (british & Australian) also swear up and down/black and blue (American & Australian/Australian)
to say that something is completely true, especially when someone does not believe you He swore up and down that he'd never seen the letter. If I ask her, I know she'll swear blind she locked the door. He swore black and blue he had nothing to do with the missing money.
See also: blind, swear

swear like a trooper

to swear a lot
Usage notes: A trooper is a soldier with a low rank.
He came in drunk and swearing like a trooper.
See also: like, swear

swear at

Curse, use abusive, violent, or blasphemous language against, as in He has a way of swearing at all the other drivers on the road. [Late 1600s]
See also: swear

swear by

1. Have great reliance on or confidence in, as in She swears by her personal physician. [Early 1800s]
2. Also, swear to. Have reliable knowledge of, be sure of, as in I think she was going to the library but I can't swear to it. [Mid-1700s]
3. Take an oath by, as in I swear by all the saints in heaven. [Early 1200s]
See also: swear

swear in

Administer a legal or official oath to, as in The new mayor will be sworn in tomorrow. [c. 1700]
See also: swear

swear like a trooper

Freely utter profanity or obscenity, as in The teacher was shocked when she heard one of the fathers begin to swear like a trooper. The troopers in this term were the cavalry, who were singled out for their swearing from the early 1700s on.
See also: like, swear

swear off

Pledge to renounce or give up, as in I've sworn off cigarettes. This expression was first used for abjuring liquor in the first half of the 1800s but has since been broadened to just about anything.
See also: off, swear

swear on a stack of Bibles

Promise solemnly that what one is about to say is true, as in I swear on a stack of Bibles that I had nothing to do with his dropping out. This term alludes to the practice of placing one's hand on a sacred object while taking an oath, which dates from the mid-10th century. It is still followed in courts of law where a witness being sworn to tell the truth places a hand on the Bible. [Mid-1800s]
See also: Bible, of, on, stack, swear

swear out

Obtain a warrant for arrest by making a charge under oath, as in The school principal swore out a warrant for the arrest of the vandals. [Late 1800s]
See also: out, swear

swear at

v.
To use abusive, violent, or blasphemous language against someone or something; curse someone or something: The child swore at the teacher and was sent to the principal's office.
See also: swear

swear by

v.
1. To have great reliance on or confidence in someone or something: He swears by his personal physician. She swears by the new computer program.
2. To have reliable knowledge of something; be sure of something: I think that's the person who stole my purse, but I couldn't swear by it.
3. To take an oath by something: I swore by all the angels and saints of heaven that I wouldn't reveal the secret to anyone.
See also: swear

swear in

v.
To administer a legal or official oath to someone: The police department swore in 15 new officers. The Chief Justice will swear the new President in.
See also: swear

swear off

v.
To pledge to renounce or give up something: I have sworn off cigarettes and alcohol.
See also: off, swear

swear out

v.
To obtain some warrant for arrest by making a charge under oath: The victims swore out a warrant against their attacker.
See also: out, swear

swear to

v.
To utter or bind someone to some oath: She swore her friends to secrecy before telling them what happened. The man wanted to confess, but he was sworn to silence.
See also: swear

swear like a trooper

in. to curse and swear with great facility. The clerk started swearing like a trooper, and the customer started crying.
See also: like, swear

swear on a stack of Bibles

in. to make a very solemn pledge of one’s honesty. (Folksy. Official oaths are sometimes taken with one hand on a Bible. This phrase implies that more Bibles make an even stronger oath.) I swear on a stack of Bibles that I was in Atlanta on the night of January sixteenth.
See also: Bible, of, on, stack, swear
References in periodicals archive ?
signed o a new law on Monday that bans swearing at arts, cultural and entertainment events in his country.
Brendan is talking to HBO and PBS about doing it in America and they do want it as it is - swearing and all.
uk/news/archive/2013-07/30/russia-censors-internet-swearing) Wired , Anna Russell, a Russian lecturer at Queen Mary University London, said Russians' attitude to swearing was "arguable", adding that "the difference is that in Russia there is a whole separate language for swearing, known as [ETH]1/4[ETH][degrees]N.
Moreover he was persuaded that the worship of God is the obligatory part of oath-taking: by which means those swearing were holding their hands on the altars of their gods, to whom also it is covenanted what we read in Exodus 23[:13], "All the things which I have said to you, keep, and you will not swear by the name of foreign [gods], nor will it be heard from your mouth.
Researchers at Wolverhampton University found at least one in three youth MySpace sites contain strong swearing, with the same amount for boys and girls, and about nine in 10 contain some form of swearing.
They explained that the wristbands would be a giveaway serving two purposes: first as a visual reminder for students not to swear; and second, as a public relations tool that would announce to the Bremerton community the serious commitment of not swearing.
Good swearing is an art, a link to our language's Anglo Saxon heritage to be cherished and nurtured.
Taking an oath or swearing is to take God as witness to what one affirms.
Missions accomplished: Landing choice post in new Homeland Security Department with no experience whatsoever, swearing in soldiers posthumously
On the other hand, I was raised to believe that any kind of swearing is just plain wrong, so I didn't swear as a child.
Although Shakespeare's later tragedies, especially Othello, demonstrate a clear demarcation between several types of promise (oaths and swearing for example) in Hamlet these two terms can be taken to mean what Frances Shirley defines as "the calling to witness something, divine or otherwise, to seal vows of allegiance and promises of love or to attest the truth of a statement" (xi).
It's ridiculous specially if the football or the rugby is on, they can't stop people swearing.
I'm sure it's my grandma's swearing and vitriol that has kept her alive to this great age.
The Inverness boss reckons Neil Lennon's touchline ban for swearing reeked of something nightmarish from George Orwell's great novel.