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 Shaking the Gates is part family memoir, part history; part paean to parents, part sophisticated sociological critique, including critique of Archibald’s own family. Dan Carsen, al, "Read, think, and shake your own gates," 6 Apr. 2021 His hagiographic Snowden is an embarrassing paean to anti-patriotism. Kyle Smith, National Review, "My Love-Hate Relationship with Oliver Stone," 7 Mar. 2021 The New York governor’s paean to his handling of the COVID-19 crisis is in some ways a classic political chronicle: a hero’s journey, through the ordeal to the victory, told by the hero himself. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "Andrew Cuomo’s Leadership Memoir Did Not Age Well," 5 Mar. 2021 Each detail is remembered affectionately, but also imbued with a touch of darkness: A paean to the beauty of Germany’s forests includes Joseph Goebbels’s proposal, in 1938, to bar Jews from entering them. Lauren Fox, WSJ, "Five Best: Books on Reckonings With History," 26 Feb. 2021 Trump preaches the gospel of prosperity: a combination of a baller’s paean to bottle service and a recent convert’s confidence that his God is better than everyone else’s God. Robin Givhan, Washington Post, "Waiting for relief," 4 Nov. 2020 Filmed before a live audience on a strikingly spare stage, Byrne and his multicultural troupe of 11 musicians and dancers from around the world, all barefoot in their gray wool suits, offer up a joyous paean to community and what brings us together. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, "From ‘American Utopia’ to ‘Ma Rainey’: The 10 best films of 2020," 21 Dec. 2020 Generations of readers — whatever their origins — have rightly regarded the novel as a paean to working- class grit and the vitality of the city. Washington Post, "‘A Tree Grows in Brooklyn’ was a classic. Does Betty Smith’s follow-up warrant reconsideration?," 7 Dec. 2020 That now includes Hollywood’s 1978 paean to the Eisenhower era. oregonlive, "Critics say ‘Grease’ is sexist; Olivia Newton-John pushes back: ‘There’s nothing deep in there about #MeToo movement’," 28 Oct. 2020

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

11 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Paean.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 May. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of paean

literary : a song of joy, praise, or victory

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