- sweep (v.)
- early 14c., "make clean by sweeping with a broom;" mid-14c., "perform the act of sweeping," of uncertain origin, perhaps from a past tense form of Middle English swope "sweep," from Old English swapan "to sweep" (transitive & intransitive); see swoop (v.), or perhaps from a Scandinavian source. Related: Swept; sweeping.
From late 14c. as "hasten, rush, move swiftly and strongly;" also "collect by sweeping." From c.1400 in transitive sense "drive quickly, impel, move or carry forward by force;" mid-15c. as "clear (something) away." Meaning "win all the events" is 1960, American English. Sense of "pass systematically over in search of something" is from 1966. To sweep (someone) off (his or her) feet "affect with infatuation" is from 1913.
- sweep (n.)
- mid-13c., "stroke, force," from sweep (v.). Meaning "act of sweeping" is from 1550s. From 1670s as "range, extent of a continued motion." In reference to police or military actions, it is attested from 1837. Sense of "a winning of all the tricks in a card game" is from 1814 (see sweepstakes); extended to other sports by 1960. Meaning "rapid survey or inspection" is from 1966. As a shortened form of chimney-sweeper, first attested 1796.