pae·​an | \ ˈpē-ən How to pronounce paean (audio) \

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 Today, Kerala sings paeans to and pines for his prosperous and just reign. Harish Pullanoor, Quartz India, "We, the permanent villains of Indian mythology, must reclaim our fallen icons," 30 Dec. 2019 Lennon’s anguished paean to Ono—a trio of highly polished yet one-dimensional songs that occasionally verge on self-parody. Jonathan Gould, The New Yorker, "When the Beatles Walked Offstage: Fifty Years of “Abbey Road”," 21 Oct. 2019 Mr Johnson rarely opens his mouth without a paean to the beloved but ailing NHS. The Economist, "The Tories target health and crime in a political Queen’s Speech," 19 Oct. 2019 More surprising is the fact that, in a campaign that started with paeans to the party’s need for youth and diversity, none of the many other candidates has elbowed into a place among the three white septuagenarians. Los Angeles Times, "News Analysis: Democrats head toward a three-person race while the second tier scrambles," 13 Sep. 2019 In the national mold, Corbyn is a postwar leader—ready to invest and rebuild after decades of damage, delivering paeans to the virtues of peace. Samuel Earle, The New Republic, "The White Cliffs of Brexit," 22 Oct. 2019 Ancient stone slabs with Khmer and Sanskrit inscriptions list the names of Khmer slaves, details of land disputes and settlements, and paeans to kings and gods. Kareena Gianani, National Geographic, "Explore Cambodia’s ancient stone city," 10 Sep. 2019 Mr Jones’s paean of praise to Mr Webb’s perfect little song is full of gems such as this. The Economist, "A cultural history of “Wichita Lineman”, an American masterpiece," 13 Aug. 2019 His voice, heard in passionate paeans to the uprisings sweeping the country, earned him the nickname the Nightingale of the Revolution. Nabih Bulos,, "Syrian rebel leader’s death spurs debate about his legacy," 11 June 2019

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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Last Updated

5 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Paean.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 January 2020.

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How to pronounce paean (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of paean

literary : a song of joy, praise, or victory

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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for paean

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with paean Encyclopedia article about paean

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