- any of several large, stately aquatic birds of the subfamily Anserinae, having a long, slender neck and usually pure-white plumage in the adult.Compare mute swan, trumpeter swan, whistling swan, whooper swan.
- a person or thing of unusual beauty, excellence, purity, or the like.
- Literary. a person who sings sweetly or a poet.
- (initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Cygnus.
Origin of swan1
- Midland and Southern U.S. Older Use. to swear or declare (used with I): Well, I swan, I never expected to see you here!
Origin of swan2
- Sir Joseph Wilson,1828–1914, British chemist, electrical engineer, and inventor.
Examples from the Web for swan
Contemporary Examples of swan
Seeley Lake lies in the valley between two mountain ranges: the Swan to the east, the Mission to the west.
From the corner of the porch you can see the Swan Mountains; turning your head, you see the Missions.
The Memphis metropolitan daily, the aptly named Commercial Appeal, took a swan dive on the story.The Strange and Mysterious Death of Mrs. Jerry Lee Lewis
Richard Ben Cramer
January 11, 2014
But at least Prince William, who is today experiencing day two of student life, now has some pals he can eat a swan with.Will William Be Eating Swan At Cambridge University?
January 8, 2014
I added a few impossible positions, just to have a little fun, like the Swan Flying over the Oyster Shell.The Business of Sex: Amy Tan’s ‘The Valley of Amazement’ on Shanghai Courtesans
November 8, 2013
Historical Examples of swan
He told us he had been to Swan River, and thought it was quite as good as this place.Explorations in Australia
The swan is said to breed wild now no further away than the North of Sweden.Beowulf
His lady was dressed in blue velvet, all trimmed with swan's down.The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
The natives set a great value upon the feathers of the Swan.
The Swan of Louisiana are like those of France, only they are larger.
- any large aquatic bird of the genera Cygnus and Coscoroba, having a long neck and usually a white plumage: family Anatidae, order Anseriformes
- rare, literary
- a poet
- (capital when part of a title or epithet)the Swan of Avon (Shakespeare)
- (intr; usually foll by around or about) informal to wander idly
Word Origin for swan
- a river in SW Western Australia, rising as the Avon northeast of Narrogin and flowing northwest and west to the Indian Ocean below Perth. Length: about 240 km (150 miles)
- Sir Joseph Wilson. 1828–1914, English physicist and chemist, who developed the incandescent electric light (1880) independently of Edison
Old English swan, from Proto-Germanic *swanaz (cf. Old Saxon swan, Old Norse svanr, Middle Dutch swane, Dutch zwaan, Old High German swan, German Schwan), probably literally "the singing bird," from PIE root *swon-/*swen- "to sing, make sound" (see sound (n.1)); thus related to Old English geswin "melody, song" and swinsian "to make melody."
In classical mythology, sacred to Apollo and to Venus. The singing of swans before death was alluded to by Chaucer (late 14c.), but swan-song (1831) is a translation of German Schwanengesang. Swan dive is recorded from 1898. A black swan was proverbial for "something extremely rare or non-existent" (late 14c.), after Juvenal ["Sat." vi. 164], but later they turned up in Australia.
"Do you say no worthy wife is to be found among all these crowds?" Well, let her be handsome, charming, rich and fertile; let her have ancient ancestors ranged about her halls; let her be more chaste than all the dishevelled Sabine maidens who stopped the war--a prodigy as rare upon the earth as a black swan! yet who could endure a wife that possessed all perfections? I would rather have a Venusian wench for my wife than you, O Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi, if, with all your virtues, you bring me a haughty brow, and reckon up Triumphs as part of your marriage portion. [Juvenal]