AskDefine | Define swab

Dictionary Definition



1 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
2 cleaning implement consisting of absorbent material fastened to a handle; for cleaning floors [syn: swob, mop]


1 wash with a swab or a mop; "swab the ship's decks" [syn: swob]
2 apply (usually a liquid) to a surface; "dab the wall with paint" [syn: dab, swob] [also: swabbing, swabbed]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. 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.
  2. A sample taken with a swab (1).
  3. A piece of material used for cleaning or sampling other items like musical instruments or guns.
  4. A mop, especially on a ship.
  5. A sailor; see swabby.


  1. To use a swab on something, or clean something with a swab
    • swab the decks: mop the deck of a ship

Extensive Definition

  • In medicine, a cotton swab is a small piece of material, such as gauze or cotton, which is used to clean wounds, apply medications, or retrieve samples of body fluids such as blood or mucus. Swabs may be attached to stiff wires or sticks to aid access. Swabbing is useful as a noninvasive technique which is easily mastered. It's also used when dealing with bacteria.
swab in German: Tupfer
swab in Spanish: Swab

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

air-dry, anhydrate, bake, baptize, bath, bathe, blot, brush, burn, cure, dehumidify, dehydrate, desiccate, douche, drain, dry, evaporate, exsiccate, fire, flush, flush out, gargle, holystone, insolate, irrigate, kiln, lather, launder, lave, mop, mop up, mummify, parch, rinse, rinse out, ritually immerse, rub, scorch, scour, scrub, scrub up, sear, shampoo, shower, shrivel, sluice, sluice out, smoke, soak up, soap, sponge, sun, sun-dry, syringe, toivel, torrefy, towel, tub, wash, wash out, wash up, weazen, wipe, wither, wizen
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