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Type Surname (from occupation)
Other Forms FormsSveinn, McSwain, Mac Suibhne

Meaning & History

Northern English occupational name for a servant or attendant, from Middle English swein "young man attendant upon a knight", which was derived from Old Norse sveinn "boy, servant, attendant". In some cases it may be a patronymic from the Old Norse given name Sveinn, originally from the word meaning "servant".

As a Scottish and Irish surname it is a reduced form of Mcswain, the anglicized form of an unidentified Gaelic patronymic, which perhaps meant "son of the servant" from Old Norse sveinn (or the given name Sveinn), or may have been Mac Suibhne "son of Suibhne" (a byname meaning "pleasant").
Added 3/19/2009 by LMS
Edited 6/11/2016 by LMS and SeaHorse15