When something swells, it gets bigger or it increases.

simplepastpast participle
swelled or swollen
  • Wendy’s face swells up if she has an allergic reaction to medication.
  • The river that goes through our town swells to twice its regular size after heavy rains.
  • Ralph’s arm began to swell after he was hit with a baseball.
  • His arm became bruised and swollen. (The word "swollen" is an adjective in this sentence.)
  • After a dentist gives you novocain for dental work, that part of your mouth will feel swollen and numb.
  • The city population swelled quickly after gold was discovered nearby.
  • Doctors relieved the swelling in the man’s brain in order to save his life. (The word "swelling" is a noun in this sentence.)
  • Putting ice on an injury can help reduce the swelling.


After getting hit on the head, his head began to swell.

The word "swell" can also be used as an adjective that means something is good. (However, this usage is a little outdated.)

  • That was a swell party. (That was a good party.)
  • I feel swell today.
  • That sounds swell.
  • That’s just swell. (This could be said in a sarcastic manner, which would have the opposite meaning.)

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July 27, 2016