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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?