Swain is a traditional English surname derived ultimately from the Old Norse personal name "Sveinn" (Sven, Sweyn), meaning a youth, young man. There are a number of variations in the spelling of the surname Swain, including Swaine, Swainne and Swayne.

Swain is also a surname in Orissa India

From this word meaning boy, young male or servant, are derived:
*the noun swain, meaning a rustic lover or boyfriend, cf. the numerous examples in Shakespeare's work, including his lyric, " [w] ho is Sylvia, what is she that all our Swains commend her" (from "The Two Gentlemen of Verona")
* there are also specific nautical words involving swain: boatswain (literally "young man in charge of a boat") which can be seen in Shakespeare's The Tempest, and coxswain.

Notable people named Swain

* Brennan Swain, American television star and winner of The Amazing Race
* David Lowry Swain, governor of the U.S. state of North Carolina, 1832-1835
* Diana Swain, Canadian television journalist
* Dominique Swain, American actress
* Gladys Swain, French psychiatrist and writer
* Louisa Ann Swain, first woman in America to vote in a general election
* Paul Swain, New Zealand politician
* Richard Swain, New Zealand rugby league footballer


* [http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=swain&searchmode=none| Etymology on-line]

See also

* Candle swain (known as the "kertilsveinar" at the Norwegian "hird", i.e. royal court)
* Swain County, North Carolina
* Swain School of Design

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  • Swain — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Ben Swain (* 1986), britischer Wasserspringer Bennie Swain (1930–2008), US amerikanischer Basketballspieler und trainer Chelse Swain (* 1983), US amerikanische Schauspielerin David Swain (1801–1870), US… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Swain — Swain, n. [OE. swain, swein, Icel. sveinn a boy, servant; akin to Sw. sven, Dan. svend, AS. sw[=a]n, OHG. swein.] 1. A servant. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] Him behoves serve himself that has no swain. Chaucer. [1913 Webster] 2. A young man dwelling in… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • swain — [sweın] n old use [Date: 1500 1600; : Old Norse; Origin: sveinn boy, servant ] a young man from the country who loves a woman …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • swain — [ sweın ] noun count LITERARY a young man, especially a young man who is in love …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • swain — mid 12c., young man attendant upon a knight, from O.N. sveinn boy, servant, attendant, from P.Gmc. *swainaz attendant, servant, properly “one s own (man),” from PIE *swoi no , from root *swe oneself, alone, apart (see IDIOM (Cf. idiom)).… …   Etymology dictionary

  • swain — swain; swainmote /sweyn(mowt)/ See swein sweinmote …   Black's law dictionary

  • swain — ► NOUN 1) archaic a country youth. 2) literary a young lover or suitor. ORIGIN Old Norse, lad …   English terms dictionary

  • swain — [swān] n. [ME swein < ON sveinn, boy, servant, akin to OE swan, shepherd, peasant, youth < IE * swe , one s own, apart] Archaic 1. a country youth 2. a young rustic lover or gallant 3. a lover or suitor swainish adj. swainishness n …   English World dictionary

  • swain —    The earliest meaning of this word in English was ‘boy’ or ‘servant’. Traces of this survive in compounds like ‘boatswain’, ‘coxswain’. By the seventeenth century the meaning had shifted across to ‘peasant labourer’, or ‘shepherd’.    Petruchio …   A dictionary of epithets and terms of address

  • swain — boat·swain; swain; swain·ish; swain·so·na; swain·son; cox·swain; …   English syllables

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