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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English sweren, swerien, from Old English swerian (to swear, take an oath of office), from Proto-Germanic *swarjaną (to speak, swear), from Proto-Indo-European *swer- (to speak, talk). Cognate with West Frisian swarre (to swear), Eastern Frisian swera (to swear), Dutch zweren (to swear, vow), Low German swören (to swear), sweren, German schwören (to swear), Danish sværge, Swedish svära (to swear), Icelandic sverja (to swear). Also cognate to Albanian var (to hang, consider, to depend from) through Proto-Indo-European.


swear (third-person singular simple present swears, present participle swearing, simple past swore, past participle sworn)

  1. (intransitive, transitive) To take an oath.
  2. (intransitive) To use offensive language.
Usage notes[edit]
Derived terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Etymology 2[edit]

From the above verb, or from Middle English sware, from Old English swaru, from Proto-Germanic *swarō.


swear (plural swears)

  1. A swearword.

Etymology 3[edit]

From Middle English swer, swar, from Old English swǣr, swār (heavy, heavy as a burden, of great weight, oppressive, grievous, painful, unpleasant, sad, feeling or expressing grief, grave, slow, dull, sluggish, slothful, indolent, inactive from weakness, enfeebled, weak), from Proto-Germanic *swēraz (heavy), from Proto-Indo-European *swēr- (heavy). Cognate with West Frisian swier (heavy), Dutch zwaar (heavy, hard, difficult), German schwer (heavy, hard, difficult), Swedish svår (heavy, hard, severe), Latin sērius (earnest, grave, solemn, serious) and Albanian varrë (wound,plague).

Alternative forms[edit]


swear (comparative swearer or more swear, superlative swearest or most swear)

  1. (UK dialectal) Heavy.
  2. (UK dialectal) Top-heavy; too high.
  3. (UK dialectal) Dull; heavy; lazy; slow; reluctant; unwilling.
  4. (UK dialectal) Niggardly.
  5. (UK dialectal) A lazy time; a short rest during working hours (especially field labour); a siesta.
Derived terms[edit]


swear (third-person singular simple present swears, present participle swearing, simple past and past participle sweared)

  1. (UK dialectal) To be lazy; rest for a short while during working hours.