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See more synonyms for swain on Thesaurus.com
  1. a male admirer or lover.
  2. a country lad.
  3. a country gallant.
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Origin of swain

before 1150; Middle English swein servant < Old Norse sveinn boy, servant; cognate with Old English swān
Related formsswain·ish, adjectiveswain·ish·ness, nounun·der·swain, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for swain

sweetheart, squire, love, suitor, paramour, admirer, steady, honey, escort, flame, beloved, lover, cavalier, inamorato, wooer

Examples from the Web for swain

Contemporary Examples of swain

Historical Examples of swain

  • The more costly the musical ingredients, the greater the swain's devotion!

    Jane Journeys On

    Ruth Comfort Mitchell

  • A swain touched then his lute, or whatever you may call it, to his Dulcinea.

  • Her own swain was waiting for her, but not for that would she abjure the quest.

  • He called in the university for Swain, and the two went "down town" together.

    Sons and Lovers

    David Herbert Lawrence

  • Mr. Swain is an honest and an able man, though he believes in things I do not.

    Richard Carvel, Complete

    Winston Churchill

British Dictionary definitions for swain


noun archaic, or poetic
  1. a male lover or admirer
  2. a country youth
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Derived Formsswainish, adjective

Word Origin for swain

Old English swān swineherd; related to Old High German swein, Old Norse sveinn boy; see swine
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

Word Origin and History for swain


mid-12c., "young man attendant upon a knight," from Old Norse sveinn "boy, servant, attendant," from Proto-Germanic *swainaz "attendant, servant," properly "one's own (man)," from PIE *swoi-no-, from root *swe- "oneself, alone, apart" (see idiom). Cognate with Old English swan "shepherd, swineherd," Old Saxon swen, Old High German swein. Meaning "country or farm laborer" is from 1570s; that of "lover, wooer" (in pastoral poetry) is from 1580s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper