• WordNet 3.6
    • v swab apply (usually a liquid) to a surface "dab the wall with paint"
    • v swab wash with a swab or a mop "swab the ship's decks"
    • n swab cleaning implement consisting of absorbent material fastened to a handle; for cleaning floors
    • n swab 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
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: Q-Tip Cotton Swabs were originally called Baby Gays
    • Swab A bit of sponge, cloth, or the like, fastened to a handle, for cleansing the mouth of a sick person, applying medicaments to deep-seated parts, etc.
    • Swab A cod, or pod, as of beans or pease. "Swad , in the north, is a peascod shell -- thence used for an empty, shallow-headed fellow."
    • Swab A kind of mop for cleaning floors, the desks of vessels, etc., esp. one made of rope-yarns or threads.
    • Swab A sponge, or other suitable substance, attached to a long rod or handle, for cleaning the bore of a firearm.
    • Swab (Naut) An epaulet.
    • v. t Swab To clean with a mop or swab; to wipe when very wet, as after washing; as, to swab the desk of a ship.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • swab To clean with water and a swab, especially the decks of ships.
    • n swab A utensil for cleaning. A large mop used on shipboard for cleaning decks, etc.
    • n swab The epaulet of a naval officer.
    • n swab A bit of sponge, cloth, or the like fastened to a handle, for cleansing the mouth of the sick, or for giving them nourishment. Compare probang.
    • n swab In founding, a small tapering tuft of hemp, charged with water, for touching up the edges of molds.
    • n swab An awkward, clumsy fellow.
    • swab Same as swap.
    • n swab Same as swad.
    • n swab An abbreviation of Swabia or Swabian.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Swab swob a mop for cleaning or drying floors or decks, or for cleaning out the bore of a cannon: a bit of sponge, &c., for cleansing the mouth of a sick person:
    • v.t Swab to clean or dry with a swab:—pr.p. swab′bing; pa.t. and pa.p. swabbed
    • n Swab swob (slang) a naval officer's epaulet: a lubber or clumsy fellow in sailor's slang
    • ***


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
Written also swob,
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
Dut. zwabber, a swabber, zwabberen, to swab; Ger. schwabber.


In literature:

DUKE: Swabs' lanterns explode, stoopid.
"Wappin' Wharf" by Charles S. Brooks
He whistled us to swab decks, whistled us to grub, whistled us to every blessed thing.
"More Cargoes" by W. W. Jacobs
It is scraped and swabbed all day.
"The Letters of Charles Dickens" by Charles Dickens
The skipper stared at him blankly, meanwhile swabbing at his burns with oiled waste.
"Gold Out of Celebes" by Aylward Edward Dingle
Of all the unpleasant experiences that I had at war, this throat swabbing was the worst.
"In the Flash Ranging Service" by Edward Alva Trueblood
DeLancey told her as much while he was helpin' swab off the reverend guest.
"Odd Numbers" by Sewell Ford
From oaken gunwales glistened slim cannon, their throats swabbed clean after some wholesale murder on the open seas.
"A Village of Vagabonds" by F. Berkeley Smith
If no metal fouling is in evidence, then swab out with the swabbing solution.
"Manual of Military Training" by James A. Moss
Can't you see what a swab he is, Laura?
"Northern Lights" by Gilbert Parker
He swabbed up the galley under Neb's gruff direction; he fed the chickens and milked the cow.
"Killykinick" by Mary T. Waggaman

In poetry:

Belay y'r jaw, y' swab! y' hoss-marine!
(To the Captain.)
Ay, ay, Sir! Stiddy, Sir! Sou'wes' b' sou'!
"A Sea Dialogue" by Oliver Wendell Holmes
Boatswain, lifting one knowing lid,
Hitches his breeches and shifts his quid
"Hey? What is it? Who 's come to grief
Louder, young swab, I 'm a little deaf."
"The Old Cruiser" by Oliver Wendell Holmes
The Sergeant-major, filled with rage,
Attacked the Sergeant at this stage,
‘You careless swab! jump to it smart.
Oh strewth! You break my blinkin ’eart!’
"Orange peel" by J Milton Hayes
And then (according to a nurse),
They heard him petulantly say:
"Adipose tissue is curse:
It's hard to pack them tripes away."
At last he did; sewed up the skin,
But left, some say, a swab within.
"The Widow" by Robert W Service
Oh, everybody's mighty vexed for poor old Bob . . . But, still,
I often thinks 'tis time that one or two was vexed for Bill.
For Bill's a wicked, lazy swab, a walkin' cask o' beer—
Leastwise Bob always called him so afore his mind went queer.
"Frien' Bill" by John Joy Bell
Such was the tale that was told to me
By that modest and truthful son of the sea,
And I envy the life of a second mate,
Though captains curse him and sailors hate,
For he ain't like some of the swabs I've seen,
As would go and lie to a poor marine.
"A Sailor's Yarn" by James Jeffrey Roche

In news:

Aromatherapy When You Swab The Sink.
Improvements to 3M's Clean-Trace Water test swab available for global food and beverage producers.
Swab is two-way standout for Cascia Hall.
The chief justice noted that most courts that have addressed the constitutionality of cheek swabs have concluded that it is a "search" for the purpose of the Fourth Amendment.
Now the process is to be applied to passengers' hands, which agents will swab on a random basis at points around airports CNN provides the details.
TSA to Swab Airline Passengers' Hands.
Aromatherapy When You Swab The Sink.
Each horse will be swabbed for masking agents.
Lao Moua, a risk assessor with the Sustainable Resources Center in Minneapolis, swabs a sample area during a lead assessment at a home in northeast Minneapolis, Monday, May 21, 2012.
An oral swab used to test for HIV.
The bloody swab was used to match Tucker's DNA on evidence from the robbery.
Take a swab of the area.
Kidd's remains through DNA cotton swab tests.
Target 7 swabs menus for germs.
Instead of swabbing decks and hoisting sails like other pirates , in 1995 he founded an organization called The Pirate Toy Fund which has given over 100,000 toys to children in need.