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[swair] /swɛər/
verb (used without object), swore or (Archaic) sware; sworn; swearing.
to make a solemn declaration or affirmation by some sacred being or object, as a deity or the Bible.
to bind oneself by oath.
to give evidence or make a statement on oath.
to use profane oaths or language:
Don't swear in front of the children.
verb (used with object), swore or (Archaic) sware; sworn; swearing.
to declare, affirm, attest, etc., by swearing by a deity, some sacred object, etc.
to affirm, assert, or say with solemn earnestness.
to promise or undertake on oath or in a solemn manner; vow.
to testify or state on oath:
He swore it on the witness stand.
to take (an oath), as in order to give solemnity or force to a declaration, promise, etc.
to bind by an oath:
to swear someone to secrecy.
Verb phrases
swear by,
  1. to name (a sacred being or thing) as one's witness or guarantee in swearing.
  2. Informal. to have great confidence in; rely on:
    He swears by his dentist.
  3. to have certain knowledge of:
    I thought I saw him leaving, but I couldn't swear by it.
swear in, to admit to office or service by administering an oath:
A new president will be sworn in today.
swear off, to promise or resolve to give up something, especially intoxicating beverages.
swear out, to secure (a warrant for arrest) by making an accusation under oath.
Origin of swear
before 900; Middle English sweren, Old English swerian; cognate with German schwören, Old Norse sverja; akin to Gothic swaran to swear; see answer
Related forms
swearer, noun
swearingly, adverb
reswear, verb, reswore, resworn, reswearing.
underswearer, noun
1. declare, affirm, avow. 3. depose, testify. 4. imprecate. See curse. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for swear
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And, by all the saints, I swear you are the only woman I have ever loved!

    The Gold Girl James B. Hendryx
  • Bring me one to wrestle with, and I swear you shall see me overthrow him.

    The Children of Odin Padraic Colum
  • swear to me that you will not injure the child, or I will not bring it to you.

    The Manchester Rebels of the Fatal '45 William Harrison Ainsworth
  • I swear to you—But no, my actions, not my words, must prove my admiration.

    Fairy Fingers Anna Cora Mowatt Ritchie
  • I swear that I have no thought beyond the interest of my country.

    Napoleon's Letters to Josephine Henry Foljambe Hall
British Dictionary definitions for swear


verb swears, swearing, swore, sworn
to declare or affirm (a statement) as true, esp by invoking a deity, etc, as witness
(foll by by)
  1. to invoke (a deity, etc) by name as a witness or guarantee to an oath
  2. to trust implicitly; have complete confidence (in)
(intransitive) often foll by at. to curse, blaspheme, or use swearwords
(when transitive, may take a clause as object or an infinitive) to promise solemnly on oath; vow
(transitive) to assert or affirm with great emphasis or earnestness
(intransitive) to give evidence or make any statement or solemn declaration on oath
to take an oath in order to add force or solemnity to (a statement or declaration)
(informal) swear blind, to assert emphatically
a period of swearing
Derived Forms
swearer, noun
Word Origin
Old English swerian; related to Old Norse sverja, Gothic swaran, Old Frisian swera, German schwören
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for swear

Old English swerian "take an oath" (class VI strong verb; past tense swor, past participle sworen), from Proto-Germanic *swarjan-, (cf. Old Saxon swerian, Old Norse sverja, Danish sverge, Old Frisian swera, Middle Dutch swaren, Old High German swerien, German schwören, Gothic swaren "to swear"), from PIE root *swer- (1) "to speak, talk, say" (cf. Old Church Slavonic svara "quarrel"). Also related to the second element in answer. The secondary sense of "use bad language" (early 15c.) developed from the notion of "invoke sacred names." Swear-word is American English colloquial from 1883. Swear off "desist as with a vow" is from 1898.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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