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black swan

noun
1.
an Australian swan, Cygnus atratus, having mostly black plumage and a red bill.
2.
an occurrence or phenomenon that comes as a surprise because it was not predicted or was hard to predict (often used attributively):
a disastrous black-swan event that only appeared obvious in hindsight.
Origin of black swan
(def 2) from the belief that all swans were white, before the first sighting of Australian black swans
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for black swan
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It was within this week that the black swan returned to port.

    The Doomsman Van Tassel Sutphen
  • Constans stared gravely after the black swan as she drove along.

    The Doomsman Van Tassel Sutphen
  • But to return to the black swan, and the man who had pointed her out to me.

    Peter the Whaler W.H.G. Kingston
  • black swan had picked him out, and shot him through the head.

    Silver Lake R.M. Ballantyne
  • The advent of the black swan was the signal for prolonged applause.

British Dictionary definitions for black swan

black swan

noun
1.
a large Australian swan, Cygnus atratus, that has a black plumage and red bill
2.
a phenomenon that occurs even though it had been thought to be impossible
Word Origin
sense 2 from the fact all swans were thought to be white until black swans were discovered in Australia
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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