More about swain
Swain “a male admirer” comes by way of Middle English swein “servant” from Old Norse sveinn “boy, servant.” Linguists consider the earliest sense of sveinn and its relatives in other Germanic languages to have been “one’s own (man)”; a similar shift in meaning appears with swami, from Sanskrit svāmī “master, owner,” which may have originally meant “one’s own (master).” Both swain and swami come from a root meaning “one’s, oneself” that also appears in self and sibling. Today, swain can be found in the nautical-themed compounds boatswain and coxswain (pronounced a little counterintuitively as “boh-suhn” and “kok-suhn”). Swain was first recorded in English before 1150. For more love-related terms, check out past Words of the Day inamorata, turtledove, and jo!