1. To stray; to wander; to rope. A maid thitherward did run, To catch her sparrow which from her did swerve. (Sir P. Sidney)
2. To go out of a straight line; to deflect. The point the sword swerved.
3. To wander from any line prescribed, or from a rule or duty; to depart from what is established by law, duty, custom, or the like; to deviate. I swerve not from thy commandments. (bk. Of Com. Prayer) They swerve from the strict letter of the law. (Clarendon) Many who, through the contagion of evil example, swerve exceedingly from the rules of their holy religion. (Atterbury)
4. To bend; to incline. The battle swerved.
5. To climb or move upward by winding or turning. The tree was high; yet nimbly up from bough to bough I swerved. (Dryden)
Origin: OE. Swerven, AS. Sweorfan to wipe off, to file, to polish; akin to OFries. Swerva to creep, D. Zwerven to swerve, to rope, OS. Swerban to wipe off, MHG. Swerben to be whirled, OHG. Swerban to wipe off, Icel. Sverfa to file, Goth. Swairban (in comp) to wipe, and perhaps to E. Swarm. Cf. Swarm.