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From Proto-Baltic *swaynya-, from Proto-Indo-European *swoini, probably meaning “ours,” “one of us”, from *swe-, *swo- with an extra in, from the reflexive pronominal stem *se- (one's own) with an extra -we, -wo (whence also Latvian savs). The meaning probably went from “one of us, one of our relatives” to “one who has become a relative (by marriage)” and was then restricted to “brother-in-law.” Cognates include Lithuanian sváinis (wife's sister's husband), Old High German swein (servant, shepherd) (< “one of us”), Messapic veinam (one's own (acc.)).[1]


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svainis m (2nd declension, feminine form: svaine or svainiene)

  1. brother-in-law (one's wife's brother or one's husband's brother; also, one's sister's husband, or one's wife's sister's husband)
    tev pašam māsa un svainis strādā kaut kur kolhozāyour very sister and brother-in-law work somewhere in a collective farm
    Līzbetei daudz radu nebija... pilnīgi cerams, ka svainis Līdaks ar māsu Gerdu bērēs nebūsLīzbete didn't have many relatives... it can certainly be hoped that (her) brother-in-law Līdaks and (her) sister Gerda won't be at the funeral


Derived terms[edit]


  1. ^ Karulis, Konstantīns (1992), “svainis”, in Latviešu Etimoloģijas Vārdnīca (in Latvian), Rīga: AVOTS, →ISBN