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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), Latin somnus (sleep, slumber, drowsiness), Sanskrit स्वप्न (svápna), Ancient Greek ὕπνος (húpnos).


sweven (plural swevens)

  1. (archaic) A dream.
    • 1485, Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur, Book I, chapter xiij:
      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?