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Sweep With Me

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The Yankees just “swept” the Red Sox. ---

Ever since I heard the term “sweep” as it refers to sports I have wondered… why “sweep?” The new merriam-webster.com dictionary now lists sweep as an intransitive verb, “to win everything : beat all competitors,” but it’s definition #9. Clearly they just added it due to popularity.

There’s the clean sweep, i.e. sweep your floor. There’s being swept off your feet. And who can forget… “sweep the leg…” There is a “sweep horse” which is a champion thoroughbred race horse. There is a sweep in football, where the running back takes a handoff from the quarterback and starts running parallel to the line of scrimmage with blockers in front.

Why sweep? And who coined the phrase? It used to be “run the table” which came from billiards, meaning to make every shot in one run without missing.

Before it became part of the sports vernacular, someone said it first. I just want to know who it was.