v. (wk.)

Gaw past, pp. swared; WA pres. 2 sg. swaris, pres. 3 sg. swaris, swares, swarez, (aun-)swers, pres. pl. sware, pres. 3 subj. sware, past pl. sward, swarid

'to answer'

(Modern English )


cp. OIcel svara ‘to reply, answer’, next to OE andswarian and OFris andswara (‘to take responsibility’), supposing a PGmc *-swarōjan- ultimately formed on the root of the st. v. *swarjan- ‘to swear’.  It is conceivable that ME swaren is a reflex of OE andswarian minus its prefix (as assumed by Kullnick 11), but there is no precedent for OE and ME words in the ‘answer’ field without and- (derivatives on the bare swar- stem otherwise have to do with swearing), and most authorities prefer to explain ME swaren as a loan of (or at least as influenced by) ON svara, a view supported by its very limited N/E distribution (so OED, MED, Bj., Knigge 74, Kluge 1901: 940, TGD, GDS, McGee 351).

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

svara ‘to reply, answer’
(ONP svara (vb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Far svara, Icel svara, Norw svara, Dan svare, Sw svara

OE Cognate

andswarian, 'to answer'

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



Limited recorded currency: all of citations in MED and OED come from the Gaw MS and WA, except for one from instance in Orrm.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Gaw 1108, 1756, 1793 etc.; Pe 240; Cl 1415; WA 674, 750, 1621 etc.

The D MS of WA reads <aunswers> for <swaris> in A at 2798.


MED swāren (v.) , OED sware (v.) , HTOED , Dance sware, Bj. 255, de Vries svar, Mag. svara, Bj-L svar, Orel *swarōjanan, Kroonen *swar(j)an-, AEW (and-)swarian