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From Middle English, from Old English swefn (sleep, dream, vision), from Proto-Germanic *swefną, *swefnaz (sleep), from Proto-Indo-European *swépnos, *súpnos (dream), from Proto-Indo-European *swep- (to sleep). Cognate with Dutch suf (drowsy), Middle High German swēb (sleep), Danish søvn (sleep), Icelandic svefn (sleep), Norwegian søvn (sleep), Swedish sömn (sleep), Latin somnus (sleep, slumber, drowsiness), Sanskrit स्वप्न (svápna), Ancient Greek ὕπνος (húpnos).



sweven (plural swevens)

  1. (archaic) A dream.
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, chapter xiij, in Le Morte Darthur, book I:
      The kynge with the honderd knyghtes mette a wonder dreme two nyghtes a fore the bataille / that ther blewe a grete wynde & blewe doun her castels and her townes / and after that cam a water and bare hit all awey / Alle that herd of the sweuen said / it was a token of grete batayll
    • 1885, Sir Richard Burton (trans.), The Thousand Nights and One Night:
      [The queen] went in to the Sultan and assured him that their daughter had suffered during all her wedding-night from swevens and nightmare.
  2. (archaic) A vision.
    • The Golden Legend
      And then she said: Sir, hast thou seen the sweven that I have seen?


Middle Dutch[edit]


From Old Dutch sweven, from Proto-Germanic *swibjaną.



  1. to move back and forth
  2. to wander
  3. to float (on water)
  4. to float (through the air)
  5. to remain, to be (in a particular state)


This verb needs an inflection-table template.


Further reading[edit]

  • sweven”, in Middelnederlandsch Woordenboek, 1929