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:
- Sweyn, a number of medieval Scandinavian royals
- Bennie Swain, an American professional basketball player
- Brennan Swain, an American television star and winner of The Amazing Race
- Brett Swain (disambiguation)
- Danny!, an American rap performer and record producer from Columbia, South Carolina
- David Lowry Swain, a governor of the U.S. state of North Carolina in 1832-1835
- Diana Swain, a Canadian television journalist
- Dominique Swain, an American actress
- Gladys Swain, a French psychiatrist and writer
- James Swain, an American author of mystery novels and non-fiction magic books
- Jon Swain, an award-winning British journalist and writer
- Kenny Swain, a retired English football player
- Louisa Ann Swain, the first woman in America to vote in a general election
- Mack Swain, an American actor and vaudevillian
- Paul Swain, a New Zealand politician
- Richard Swain, a New Zealand rugby league football player
- Tony Swain (disambiguation)
- Swain, the Master Tactician, a playable champion character in the action real-time strategy video game League of Legends