\ ˈswān How to pronounce swain (audio) \

Definition of swain

1 : rustic, peasant specifically : shepherd
2 : a male admirer or suitor

Other Words from swain

swainish \ ˈswā-​nish How to pronounce swain (audio) \ adjective
swainishness noun

Examples of swain in a Sentence

a fair maiden and her swain a romanticized portrait of a bygone era of beauteous Southern belles and their gallant swains
Recent Examples on the Web In this idyllic arbor, our young maiden, Queenie, met her swain, Mr. Darcy. Kevin Fisher-paulson, San Francisco Chronicle, 17 May 2022 Aaron Tveit plays a sweet-talking swain who tries to steal away Melissa through song, much to the chagrin of the musicals-hating Josh. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, 19 July 2021 Maleficent is jilted by a swain who prefers power to love. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, 26 May 2021 Harley, however, has now split with her grinning swain and gone solo. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 7 Feb. 2020 Still, Pattinson is something to see as the confident 19th-century swain — so confident, in fact, that his all-American optimism starts to seem like a threat. Ty Burr, BostonGlobe.com, 27 June 2018 The film shifts to mechanical manipulation, though, shortly after Rossano Brazzi makes his appearance as Hepburn's swain. Patrick Friel, Chicago Reader, 8 May 2018 Ere long a torch song singer was crooning some Jazz Age hits and the dance floor was crowded with flappers in fringed black shimmy frocks and their tuxedoed swains, giving us full-on Chicago in New York. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, 9 Apr. 2018 A simple Google search on my former swain’s name brought up the band website, reviews in area press and listings of events where the band will be playing over the holidays. Regina Lynn, WIRED, 3 Dec. 2004 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'swain.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of swain

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for swain

Middle English swein boy, servant, from Old Norse sveinn; akin to Old English swān swain, Latin suus one's own — more at suicide

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The first known use of swain was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

28 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Swain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/swain. Accessed 27 Jun. 2022.

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