pae·​an | \ˈpē-ən \

Definition of paean 

1 : a joyous song or hymn of praise, tribute, thanksgiving, or triumph unite their voices in a great paean to liberty— Edward Sackville-West

2 : a work that praises or honors its subject : encomium, tribute wrote a paean to the queen on her 50th birthday

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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 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

Guyville was a paean to a certain time in the life of a girl. Sarah Nardi, Chicago Reader, "The Bongo Room turns 25: A look back at Wicker Park's beloved brunch spot," 5 July 2018 The Hawks film was based on Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s 1928 classic, The Front Page, a satirical paean to the hyper-competitive Chicago journalism of the era. Julia M. Klein,, "'His Girl Friday' at Hedgerow: Fast talk, fast pace," 2 July 2018 Before an audience that was all white — the government wouldn’t have it any other way — Kennedy delivered a paean to the freedom of speech, protest and the press. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: RFK’s speech in apartheid South Africa remains relevant 50 years after his assassination," 5 June 2018 For Cline and his co-screenwriter, Zak Penn, Spielberg — who cast his own Halliday-like influence over the childhoods of anyone who came of age in the 1980s — was the dream director to helm this paean to geek culture. Josh Rottenberg,, "‘Ready Player One’s’ Steven Spielberg and Ernest Cline on pooling their nostalgia to tell a new story," 23 Mar. 2018 There are paeans to the beauty of Jimi Hendrix and Prince. New York Times, "Sonnets That Reckon With Donald Trump’s America," 19 June 2018 Red Faction Guerrilla was one of the best of that era, a paean to destruction set on a sprawling Martian colony. Julie Muncy, WIRED, "Fortnite Season 5 Is Here, and the Rest of the Week in Games," 13 July 2018 With a 5-4 ruling on June 11th in Husted v Philip Randolph Institute, a significant voting-rights case, these paeans to dispassionate nonpartisanship ring a bit hollow. The Economist, "A divided Supreme Court strikes a blow for lower election turnouts," 14 June 2018 What Treichl had created was a paean to a kind of British noble life that barely exists anymore, the reincarnation of an ersatz Downton Abbey, itself a fiction, which struck some, including Makepeace, as a bit absurd. David Usborne, Town & Country, "The Mysterious Case of the Parnham House Fire," 29 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'paean.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of paean

1589, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for paean

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

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The first known use of paean was in 1589

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English Language Learners Definition of paean

: a song of joy, praise, or victory

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