Etymology

sew (v.)

"unite or attach (fabric, etc.) by means of thread or similar material, with or without aid of a needle or awl;" Middle English seuen, from Old English siwian "to stitch, sew, mend, patch, knit together, fasten by sewing," earlier siowian, from Proto-Germanic *siwjanan (source also of Old Norse syja, Swedish sy, Danish sye, Old Frisian sia, Old High German siuwan, Gothic siujan "to sew"), from PIE root *syu- "to bind, sew."

From c. 1200 as "produce or construct (clothing, a garment) by means of a needle and thread." The intransitive sense of "work with a needle or thread, practice sewing" is by mid-15c. Related: Sewed; sewing. Sewn is a modern variant past-participle.

To sew up (a wound, etc.) "close by stitching the edges together" is by late 15c. (Caxton); the modern colloquial sew (something) up "bring to a desired conclusion" is a figurative use attested by 1904.

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updated on July 07, 2022