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

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 The day will no doubt be filled with remembrances, stories of how Morrison’s writing affected a generation (anyone who took an English course in college in the last 30 years probably has one), and paeans to her innumerable accomplishments. Adam Epstein, Quartz, "Read Toni Morrison’s prescient essay about white supremacist violence and Trump," 6 Aug. 2019 The opera is a three-hour-plus paean to the power of the human spirit and a futuristic deep dive into the ways opera as an art form can be meticulously deconstructed and reconstructed to resemble a radical new medium. Jessica Gelt,, "Who brought a 36-foot orb into Disney Hall for ‘Atlas’? Yup, that guy again," 10 June 2019 The film is a paean to Sriracha, including facts about the origins of the sauce, the factory where it’s whipped into shape, and a trip to Thailand and the city the sauce is named after. Patrick May, The Mercury News, "Why your favorite spicy sauce is in court again," 13 June 2019 Koolhaas’s book, published in 1978 as a paean to the unfinished project of New York the Wonder City, seemed like an archaeological reverie, an evocation of the hubris and ambition of a dead city. The New York Review of Books, "Luc Sante," 13 Oct. 2016 Too many of his stories are paternalistic, moralistic paeans to white heteronormativity. Anne Cohen,, "Did Nicholas Sparks Kill The Notebook? Or, Was It Always Doomed?," 25 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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Last Updated

14 Sep 2019

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The first known use of paean was in 1589

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English Language Learners Definition of paean

literary : a song of joy, praise, or victory

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to make a temporary encampment

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