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swab

or swob

[swob] /swɒb/
noun
1.
a large mop used on shipboard for cleaning decks, living quarters, etc.
2.
a bit of sponge, cloth, cotton, or the like, sometimes fixed to a stick, for cleansing the mouth of a sick person or for applying medicaments, drying areas, etc.
3.
the material collected with a swab as a specimen for microscopic study.
4.
a brush or wad of absorbent material for cleaning the bore of a firearm.
5.
Slang. a sailor; swabby.
6.
Slang. a clumsy fellow.
verb (used with object), swabbed, swabbing.
7.
to clean with or as if with a swab:
to swab the decks.
8.
to take up or apply, as moisture, with or as if with a swab:
to swab soapy water from the decks.
9.
to pass over a surface:
to swab a mop over the decks.
Origin of swab
1645-1655
1645-55; back formation from swabber
Related forms
unswabbed, adjective

Swab.

1.
2.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for swab
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A line bent to the eye of a swab for dipping it overboard in washing it.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • Then clear out on deck and swab the curry off your face, you beast!

  • “Here, you, get a swab and mop that up,” I commanded in my harshest manner.

  • How could I permit that swab to mock me and abuse my father as a thief?

    Foma Gordyeff Maxim Gorky
  • Cuffy steps forward and expostulates, showing Mr. swab's letter.

    The Art of Amusing Frank Bellew
  • Lower down that foresail, you swab, lower down that foresail!

    Devon Boys George Manville Fenn
  • I told him I thought I had the hang of it now, and screwed a swab onto the ramrod and opened the breech to clean the gun.

    Four-Day Planet Henry Beam Piper
  • No, it was the swab,” said Harry, “but we lost our net and all the gear last night.

    The Young Trawler R.M. Ballantyne
  • This consists of a tarred rope, or a flexible whip-stalk, three-fourths of an inch in diameter, with a swab or bulbous end.

    Domestic Animals Richard L. Allen
British Dictionary definitions for swab

swab

/swɒb/
noun
1.
(med)
  1. a small piece of cotton, gauze, etc, for use in applying medication, cleansing a wound, or obtaining a specimen of a secretion, etc
  2. the specimen so obtained
2.
a mop for cleaning floors, decks, etc
3.
a brush used to clean a firearm's bore
4.
(slang) an uncouth or worthless fellow
verb swabs, swabbing, swabbed
5.
(transitive) to clean or medicate with or as if with a swab
6.
(transitive) foll by up. to take up with a swab
Word Origin
C16: probably from Middle Dutch swabbe mop; related to Norwegian svabba to splash, Dutch zwabberen to mop, German schwappen to slop over
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for swab
n.

1650s, "mop made of rope or yarn," from swabber (c.1600) "mop for cleaning a ship's deck," from Dutch zwabber, akin to West Frisian swabber "mop," from Proto-Germanic *swab-, perhaps of imitative origin. Non-nautical meaning "anything used for mopping up" is from 1787. Slang meaning "a sailor" first attested 1798, from swabber "member of a ship's crew assigned to swab decks" (1590s), which by 1609 was being used in a broader sense of "one who behaves like a low-ranking sailor."

v.

1719, possibly from swab (n.). Related: Swabbed; swabbing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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swab in Medicine

swab (swŏb)
n.

  1. A small piece of absorbent material attached to the end of a stick or wire and used for cleansing or applying medicine.

  2. A specimen of mucus or other material removed with a swab.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for swab

Suzy Homemaker

noun

A woman who fulfills the quintessential housewife role

[1960s+; fr children's toy appliance]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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swab in Technology


/swob/ The PDP-11 swap byte instruction mnemonic, as immortalised in the dd option "conv=swab".
1. To solve the NUXI problem by swapping bytes in a file.
2. The program in V7 Unix used to perform this action, or anything functionally equivalent to it.
See also big-endian, little-endian, middle-endian, bytesexual.
[Jargon File]

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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