pae·​an ˈpē-ən How to pronounce paean (audio)
: a joyous song or hymn of praise, tribute, thanksgiving, or triumph
unite their voices in a great paean to libertyEdward Sackville-West
: a work that praises or honors its subject : encomium, tribute
wrote a paean to the queen on her 50th birthday

Did you know?

According to the poet Homer, the Greek god Apollo sometimes took the guise of Paean, physician to the gods. The earliest musical paeans were hymns of thanksgiving and praise that were dedicated to Apollo. They were sung at events ranging from boisterous festivals to public funerals, and they were the traditional marching songs of armies heading into battle. Over time, the word became generalized, and it is now used for any kind of tribute.

Examples of paean in a Sentence

his retirement party featured many paeans for his long years of service to the company
Recent Examples on the Web Throughout the multiple stops, there were paeans to Biden’s roots in this town, where crowds lined the streets to cheer his motorcade. Chris Megerian, Fortune, 17 Apr. 2024 Garland’s paeans to objectivity sound noble in theory, but the photojournalist’s lens has never been entirely neutral. Andrew Marantz, The New Yorker, 16 Apr. 2024 Throughout the multiple stops, there were paeans to Biden's roots in this town, where crowds lined the streets to cheer his motorcade. Chris Megerian, Quartz, 16 Apr. 2024 Collectively, the paintings and the drawings that Murrell has chosen are, no matter their pathos, a paean to the joys of Black life, to community, to togetherness. Hilton Als, The New Yorker, 4 Mar. 2024 Packaged as a fun-time flick, 13 Going on 30 is actually quite low-key and thoughtful, an honestly moving paean to the difficulties of growing up and leaving home., 2 Mar. 2024 Banning a production of Russia’s most famous literary paean to artistic freedom was perhaps too big an irony for even the Kremlin to bear. Paul Sonne, New York Times, 16 Feb. 2024 And with that, the doc is both an immensely intimate paean to David—who was initially reluctant and laid down some ground rules. Cathy Applefeld Olson, Forbes, 18 Feb. 2024 Some are historical — portraits of players and paeans to coaches — but the trend is for the current: limited series that promise to take viewers inside the inner sanctum, to show fans what the world inhabited by their heroes is really like. Rory Smith, New York Times, 27 Jan. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'paean.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin, hymn of thanksgiving especially addressed to Apollo, from Greek paian, paiōn, from Paian, Paiōn, epithet of Apollo in the hymn

First Known Use

1589, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of paean was in 1589


Dictionary Entries Near paean

Cite this Entry

“Paean.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


pae·​an ˈpē-ən How to pronounce paean (audio)
: a song of joy, praise, or triumph
a paean to youth

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