Middle English Dictionary Entry

swēren v.
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

Note: Cp. asweren v., forsweren v.
(a) To utter an oath; make a solemn or ceremonial declaration with an appeal to a deity, sacred object, etc. in confirmation of what is said; also, in the name of an allegorical place [quot. c1400]; (b) in proverbs; (c) with directly quoted speech: to swear (certain specified words).
To take an oath while symbolically touching, or laying the hand on, an object in confirmation of what is said; -- with prep. phrases; freq. with inf. or hou or that clause expressing the content of the oath: (a) ~ on auter, to swear touching an altar; ~ on (up, upon) bok, swear on a book, esp. a book of sacred writings, the Bible, etc.; also, swear (to sth.) on a book [quot. 1463]; swear to (sth.) on a book [quot. ?a1400]; ~ on (upon) evaungeles, swear on a gospel book; ~ on (upon) goddes bodi, swear on the consecrated host; ~ on gospelles, swear on a missal; ~ on (upon) messe gere, swear on sacred vestments or articles; (b) ~ on fauchoun, ~ on (upon) sword, to swear on (one's) sword; also, swear to (sth.) on (one's) sword [quot. a1225, 2nd]; (c) ~ on (upon) hali-dom, to swear on a sacred relic or a reliquary; ben sworen on hali-dom.
In prep. phrases: ~ in the honde, to swear an oath with the hand placed in (another's) hand in confirmation; ~ mid honde, swear an oath with a confirming handclasp; -- with that clause expressing the content of the oath.
With prep. phrases: to appeal to (a divinity, sacred object, heaven, earth, etc.) in swearing, take an oath by or on (sth., a part of the body, etc.); freq. with inf. or that clause expressing the content of the oath: (a) ~ bi (par, thurgh), to swear by (God, Christ, God's name, one's faith, the cross, one's chin, etc.); (b) ~ on (o, upon), to swear by (sb. or sth., one's religious vows, etc.); also, swear to (sth.) by (one's religious vows);~ under attestacion of goddes dom, swear by God's judgment.
(a) To promise by an oath, take an oath by way of a solemn promise; ~ for..to, make a sworn promise of (land) to (sb.); (b) with inf.: to promise on oath (to do sth.), vow (to do sth.), pledge; also, refl. pledge oneself (to do sth.); (c) with that clause: to promise on oath (that one will do sth., etc.); -- also without that; (d) to promise (sth.) on oath, vow (sth.); also, with ind.obj.: pledge (sth. to sb.); promise to give (a land to sb.) [1st quot.]; ~ up deth (upon feith, etc.), pledge (sth.) upon (one's) life (faith, etc.); (e) to promise on oath to observe or perform (allegiance, fidelity, obedience, etc.); conspiracie (treisoun) sworen, sworn conspiracy (treason); (f) to promise on oath to perform (a future act): ~ ded (deth), vow to bring about (someone's) death; ~ wei, vow to undertake a pilgrimage; (g) to promise on oath to observe or carry out (conditions, a covenant, an agreement); ~ love (pes), swear to a covenant of peace; (h) introducing directly quoted speech: to promise on oath (certain specified words).
(a) To affirm, assert, or declare something by oath, take an oath as to the truth of a statement; also, affirm something emphatically or confidently without an oath, state something strongly; with ind.obj.: swear something (to sb.) [1st quot]; ~ clene, refl. swear oneself to be innocent; ~ of, make affirmation of (sth.); (b) ~ ai, to declare 'aye, ' strongly assent; ~ (hire) nai, declare 'nay' (to her), stoutly deny something (to her); ~ hire yis, say 'yes' to her, give her strong assent; (c) with that, hou that, orwhat clause: to declare (that sb. did sth., that sth. is so, how sb. is, what sth. was, etc.), asseverate, affirm; -- also without that; (d) to affirm (sth.) with an oath; also, assert (sth.) strongly; ~ soth (treuth), swear truthfulness, swear to tell the truth; make a true statement, tell the truth; ~ his soth (treuth), ~ thin treuth, pledge his (thy) word as to the truth of something; (e) with directly quoted speech: to assert strongly (certain specified words); (f) in alliterative phrases: ~ and seien, seien and ~, to assert and say, say and declare; also, say and declare (sth.); with that clause: say and assert (that sb. did sth., that sth. is so, etc.); -- also without that; with directly quoted speech: say and declare (certain specified words); ~ seiinge, make a declaration saying (certain specified words); ~ or speken, declare or speak (sth.).
In conditional or adversative clauses introduced by ac, al-though, if that, though, etc.: to vow the opposite, assert the contrary; also, swear (sth.) to the contrary, vow the opposite of (sth.); forswear (sth.), renounce; also, in conditional clauses introduced by inverted word order [last 2 quots.].
To assent (to sth.) with an oath, swear assent.
(a) To take (an oath); utter (an oath) either solemnly or profanely; -- freq. with inf. or that clause expressing the content of the oath; also without that; ~ fals sweringes, ~ mon oth, swear falsely, commit perjury; (b) ~ gret oth(es, to curse, blaspheme; (c) ~ bond with (oth mid) right honde, to swear a pledge (an oath) with (one's) right hand joined to another's in confirmation [cp. sense 1c.]; ~ oth upon the bok, swear an oath with one's hand symbolically touching a book in confirmation of what is sworn [cp. sense 1b.(a)].
To use (a sacred name) in an oath, appeal to or invoke (a deity, God's bones, the heart of Christ, etc.) by an oath.
(a) To utter a profane oath, blaspheme, curse; use profane language habitually; also, utter an oath casually or as a mere intensive; swear as an expression of anger or annoyance, in an imprecation, or as a profane affirmation; (b) ~ adoun, to overwhelm (sb.) with cursing; (c) inf. as noun: habitual cursing, blaspheming.
(a) In phrase: ben sworen, to be bound by an oath or a solemn compact; with inf. or that clause: be bound by an oath (to do sth., that one will do sth., etc.); ben sworen togederes; impers. hit was sworen that, it was accorded that (sb. do sth.); servaunt sworen, a bond servant; (b) ben sworen to, to be bound by an oath or a solemn pledge to (a course of action, chastity, a religious rule, articles, etc.), be pledged to (someone's confidence); ben sworen to deth, be sworn to bring about (someone's) death; ben sworen unto, be pledged to (sth.); sworen to armes; (c) ben sworen on (upon), to be bound by an oath taken with the hand symbolically laid upon (an object) in confirmation of what is sworn [cp. sense 1b.]; -- freq. with inf. or that clause expressing the content of the oath; don sworen upon, cause (sb.) to be bound by an oath taken with the hand laid upon (sth.); sworen upon.
(a) To pledge fealty (to sb.), swear allegiance or loyalty;(b) ben sworen, of a person, kingdom, city, etc.: to be bound by a pledge of allegiance or fealty (to sb.); -- also with inf.; also, be bound by a pledge of secrecy [quot. c1390]; ppl. sworen, pledged in allegiance (to sb., a craft); (c) ben sworen as brether, to be bound to one another by an oath of brotherhood; also fig.; sworen brother (brether), brother (brether) sworen, sworn brother(s; (d) maken sworen to, to cause (sb.) to be bound by an oath of allegiance to (sb.).
(a) In phrase: ben sworen, to be admitted to office by having a formal oath administered, be sworn into office; be appointed to perform a function or service by having an oath administered; also, with noun complement denoting the office or service to which one is sworn: ben sworen lege-man (kinges), be sworn as liegeman (kings); ppl. sworen, appointed by formal or prescribed oath to an office or a function; (b) ben sworen upon the bok, to be sworn into office with an oath taken while symbolically placing the hand upon a book [cp. sense 1b.(a)].
(a) To give sworn testimony in a court of law or in legal proceedings; also, with noun clause: testify on oath (that sb. did sth., whether sth. is so, etc.); ~ commaundements, promise on oath to comply with legal instructions; (b) ppl. sworen, bound by legal oath, under oath; sworen bi othes.
To plot, conspire; ~ (togeder) ayenes, conspire against (sb.).
In asseverations, often with diminished force and denoting mere readiness to take an oath upon the fact: ich swere (hit, ich dar (wel) swere, etc.
To proclaim (a tournament); also, with adv., introducing directly quoted speech: ~ oute, proclaim (certain specified words).
To establish (Christianity).