'answer' (Modern English )


cp. OIcel svar 'reply, answer' < PGmc *swaran, cp. WGmc nouns also derived on the root of the v. *swarjan- ‘to swear’, incl. OE and-swaru (fem.) 'answer', OFris ond-ser. It is conceivable that ME sware is a reflex of OE andswaru minus its prefix, 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 at least as influenced by ON svar. See further sware (v.).

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

svar 'reply, answer'
(ONP svar (sb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Far svar, Icel svar, Norw svar, Dan svar, Sw svar

OE Cognate

and-swaru (fem.) 'answer'

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category




MED's first citation is from Orrm and it is notable that sense (a) 'answer, reply' only occurs in Orrm and WA. Other senses more clearly deriving from the OE cognate , e.g. 'promise, pledge', are widespread.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

WA 760*, 1184, 4999 etc.


MED swār(e (n.) , OED sware (n.) , HTOED , Bj. 255, de Vries svar, Mag. svara, Orel *swaran ~ *swarō, DOE andswaru, AEW and-swaru