Definition of swain in English:



  • 1literary A young lover or suitor.

    • ‘We all loved Queen Aouda and her handsome and dashing swain, the hero of the piece, Phileas Fogg.’
    • ‘Many a desperate swain would have risked life for the privilege of pressing his lips to the mysterious hand.’
    • ‘In Lycidas, the poet / swain in the poem, together with the author, anticipate ‘Pastures new’ on the morrow.’
    • ‘‘You sound like a lovesick swain,’ she told him, and walked to the window.’
    • ‘Old and blind, Juliette gave her a lock of Chateaubriand's hair when her eighty-year-old swain died.’
    suitor, wooer, worshipper, beau, sweetheart, lover, love, beloved, lady love, boyfriend, girlfriend, young man, young lady, man friend, lady friend, escort
    View synonyms
  • 2archaic A country youth.

    countryman, countrywoman, peasant, daughter of the soil, son of the soil, country bumpkin, bumpkin, yokel, country cousin
    View synonyms


Late Old English (denoting a young man attendant on a knight), from Old Norse sveinn ‘lad’.