'swinging blow'

(Modern English )


The root *swaif- is not attested in OE, but does occur in ON, cp. OIcel sveif 'tiller' and sveifla 'to swing', with which cp. EFris sweifeln 'to sway' and OHG sweibeln. On the basis also of Norw dial sveifa 'to swing' and ME swayues (v.), an ON *sveifa is usually reconstructed (ult. from the root of PGmc *swīfan-, cp. OIcel svífa 'rove, turn, drift', OE swīfan 'revolve, sweep, wend', OFris (pres.) swīva 'to be uncertain', MHG (past sg.) sweif 'to swing').

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

cp. sveif 'tiller'
(ONP cp. sveif (sb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Norw dial sveifa; cp. Far sveiv, Icel sveif, Norw sveiv, Sw dial svev

OE Cognate

Phonological and morphological markers

ON /ei/ < PGmc */ai/

Summary category



This is the earliest attestation of this rare n., which MED and OED also cite from Chaucer as well as two other N and Midlands texts: WA and a1500(?a1400) Torrent (Chet 8009). See also swayues (v.).

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Cl 1268


MED sweif (n.) , OED swafe (n.) , HTOED , Bj. 50, de Vries sveif, Mag. sveif, Orel *swaiflōjanan, *swīfanan-, Kroonen *swīban-, Seebold sweif-a-