Swain (surname)

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Swain is an English surname derived from the Old Norse personal name Sveinn (Sven, Sweyn), meaning a youth or young man. There are a number of variations in the spelling of the surname Swain, including Swaine, Swainne, and Swayne.

It is also common as a given name in history as Sweyn.

From this word meaning boy, young male or servant, are derived:

  • The noun swain, meaning a rustic lover or boyfriend, cf. the numerous examples in Shakespeare's work, including his lyric, "[w]ho is Sylvia, what is she that all our Swains commend her" (from The Two Gentlemen of Verona) and "O God! methinks it were a happy life, To be no better than a homely swain;" (from King Henry VI)
  • There are also specific nautical words involving swain: boatswain (literally "young man in charge of a boat") which can be seen in Shakespeare's The Tempest, and coxswain.

People with the name include:

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