Old English dwellan "to mislead, deceive," originally "to make a fool of, lead astray," from Proto-Germanic *dwelan "to go or lead astray" (source also of Old Norse dvöl "delay," dvali "sleep;" Middle Dutch dwellen "to stun, make giddy, perplex;" Old High German twellen "to hinder, delay;" Danish dvale "trance, stupor," dvaelbær "narcotic berry," source of Middle English dwale "nightshade"), from PIE *dhwel-, extended form of root *dheu- (1) "dust, cloud, vapor, smoke" (and related notions of "defective perception or wits").
Related to Old English gedweola "error, heresy, madness." Sense shifted in Middle English through "hinder, delay" (perhaps by influence of the Old Norse cognate), to "linger" (c. 1200, as still in phrase to dwell upon), to "make a home" (mid-13c.). Related: Dwelled; dwelt; dwells.
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