From Middle English sewen, seowen, sowen, from Old English sīwian, sēowian, sēowan (“to sew, mend, patch, knit together, link, unite”), from Proto-Germanic *siwjaną (“to sew”), from Proto-Indo-European *sīw- (“to sew”), *syuh₁-. Cognate with Scots sew (“to sew”), North Frisian saie, sei (“to sew”), Saterland Frisian säie (“to sew”), Danish sy, Polish szyć, Russian шить (šitʹ), Swedish sy, Latin suō, Sanskrit सीव्यति (sīvyati). Related to seam.
- (UK) IPA(key): /səʊ/
- (US) IPA(key): /soʊ/
Audio (US) (file)
- Rhymes: -əʊ
- Homophones: so, soh, sow (sense 2)
- (transitive) To use a needle to pass thread repeatedly through (pieces of fabric) in order to join them together.
- Balls were first made of grass or leaves held together by strings, and later of pieces of animal skin sewn together and stuffed with feathers or hay.
- (intransitive) To use a needle to pass thread repeatedly through pieces of fabric in order to join them together.
- (transitive) To enclose by sewing.
- to sew money into a bag
Related to sewer (“a drain”).
- (obsolete, transitive) To drain the water from.
1573, Thomas Tusser, Five Hundred Pointes of Good Husbandrie, volume 8, page 40:
- Now geld with the gelder the ram and the bul, / sew ponds, amend dammes, and sel webster thy wul
1713, Roger North, A discourse of fish and fish-ponds:
- If the Bank of a Pond sews, it will preserve the Fish in Frost; the Reason, as I imagine, is, because where the Water sews out, the Air will bubble in, which relieves the Fish; or perhaps it might put the Water into some Degree of Motion.
- (nautical) Of a ship, to be grounded.
1962, Theory and Practice of Seamanship, page 236:
- The upward reaction of the keel blocks may be considered as a negative weight in a moment calculation, producing a decrease in the ship's stability, and it is most important that the vessel remains stable until she takes the blocks along the full length of her keel, i.e. when she is sewed, for until this moment the side shores cannot be successfully rigged.
2008, William Henry Smyth, The Sailor's Word:
- A ship resting upon the ground, where the water has fallen, so as to afford no hope of floating until lightened, or the return tide floats her, is said to be sewed, by as much as the difference between the surface of the water, and the ship's floating-mark.