swear

When you take an oath about something, you swear to it, affirming its truth. Ironically, if you utter an oath, such as a curse word or obscenity, you also swear. Do you swear to put a quarter in this jar for every time you swear?

The two separate meanings of swear come from branches of the same etymological tree. Both meanings have ties to Old Norse sverja, but sometime in the Middle English, the word became on one hand sweren with the meaning "to promise," while another version, swerian, became "to curse." Both might come from the idea of an oath being connected to a deity, but while one referred to truth, the other went to the dark side, negatively invoking a sacred name.

Definitions of swear
  1. verb
    to declare or affirm solemnly and formally as true
    “Before God I swear I am innocent”
    synonyms: affirm, assert, aver, avow, swan, verify
    see moresee less
    types:
    show 6 types...
    hide 6 types...
    hold
    assert or affirm
    claim, take
    lay claim to; as of an idea
    attest
    authenticate, affirm to be true, genuine, or correct, as in an official capacity
    declare
    state firmly
    protest
    affirm or avow formally or solemnly
    assure, tell
    inform positively and with certainty and confidence
    type of:
    declare
    state emphatically and authoritatively
  2. verb
    promise solemnly; take an oath
    see moresee less
    type of:
    vow
    make a vow; promise
  3. verb
    utter obscenities or profanities
    synonyms: blaspheme, curse, cuss, imprecate
    blaspheme
    speak of in an irreverent or impious manner
    see moresee less
    type of:
    express, give tongue to, utter, verbalise, verbalize
    articulate; either verbally or with a cry, shout, or noise
  4. verb
    have confidence or faith in
    “I swear by my grandmother's recipes”
    synonyms: bank, rely, trust
    see moresee less
    Antonyms:
    distrust, mistrust, suspect
    regard as untrustworthy; regard with suspicion; have no faith or confidence in
    types:
    show 4 types...
    hide 4 types...
    credit
    have trust in; trust in the truth or veracity of
    lean
    rely on for support
    bet, calculate, count, depend, look, reckon
    have faith or confidence in
    believe
    credit with veracity
    type of:
    believe
    accept as true; take to be true
  5. verb
    make a deposition; declare under oath
    synonyms: depone, depose
    see moresee less
    type of:
    declare
    state emphatically and authoritatively
Word Family