Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To burn slowly.
  • v. To melt and run down, as the tallow of a candle; waste away without fedding the flame.
  • v. To singe; scorch; dress (as a hog) with burning or singeing.
  • v. To consume with fire; burn.
  • v. To make disappear; cause to waste away; diminish; reduce.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To melt and run down, as the tallow of a candle; to waste away without feeding the flame.
  • transitive v. To singe; to scorch; to swale.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To burn slowly.
  • To melt and run down, as the tallow of a candle; waste away without feeding the flame.
  • To singe; scorch; dress, as a hog, by burning or singeing.
  • An obsolete variant of squeal.

Etymologies

From Middle English swelen, from Old English swelan ("to burn, be burnt up, inflame", st vb) (compare Old English swǣlan ("to burn", wk vb)), from Proto-Germanic *swelanan (“to smoulder, burn slowly, cool”), from Proto-Indo-European *swel- (“to shine, warm”). Cognate with Dutch zwelen ("to smoulder"), Low German swelen ("to smoulder"), German schwelen ("to smoulder"), Icelandic svala ("to cool"). Related to swelter. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • To swell and to sweal; and this soon he found out,

    The Tale of Beowulf Sometime King of the Folk of the Weder Geats

  • "And now that you are come in, Mr Henry," said the cross old woman, "what for do you no tak up your candle and gang to your bed? and mind ye dinna let the candle sweal as ye gang alang the wainscot parlour, and haud a 'the house scouring to get out the grease again."

    Old Mortality, Complete

  • To day let us caper and sweal out life's taper, __

    Larry Grogan

  • It cracks me up that you people suck this sweal up like pigs at the corporate media trough.

    Drudge Retort

  • “And now that you are come in, Mr Henry,” said the cross old woman, “what for do you no tak up your candle and gang to your bed? and mind ye dinna let the candle sweal as ye gang alang the wainscot parlour, and haud a’ the house scouring to get out the grease again.”

    Old Mortality

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • To singe. To sweal a hog. A sweal'd cat, a cat whose hair or fur is singed off by sleeping in the ashes. Sweal is sometimes applied to a candle that drooses or melts, called in Middlesex flareing.

    May 17, 2011