swan song

noun

Definition of swan song 

1 : a song of great sweetness said to be sung by a dying swan

2 : a farewell appearance or final act or pronouncement

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Did You Know?

Swans don't sing. They whistle or trumpet, or in the case of the swan most common in ponds, the mute swan, they only hiss and snort. But according to ancient legend, the swan does sing one beautiful song in its life-just before it dies. References in English to the dying swan's lovely singing go back as far as Chaucer, but the term swan song itself didn't appear in the language until the 1830s, when Thomas Carlyle used it in Sartor Resartus. Carlyle probably based his "swan song" on the German version of the term, which is Schwanengesang or Schwanenlied.

Examples of swan song in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Florida’s trip to the College World Series — the Gators’ fourth straight and seventh in nine years — also serves as Brady's swan song at UF, his last chance to add to his already impressive collegiate baseball legacy. Jordan Mcpherson, miamiherald, "Before his pro baseball career starts, UF's ace has eyes on the College World Series," 14 June 2018 His varied career has taken him from dramas like Cop Land and Girl, Interrupted to westerns like 3:10 to Yuma, but genre fans will know him best as the writer-director of the Wolverine swan song Logan. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "The director of Logan is reportedly making a Boba Fett movie," 24 May 2018 Whatever happens next, this premiere production, a memorable swan song for Kwei-Armah, is bound to be a hit at Center Stage for a tuneful, soulful month. Tim Smith, baltimoresun.com, "New jukebox musical 'Soul' delivers stacks of hits in vibrant production," 14 May 2018 So even though the election returns aren’t in yet, this garden party is a swan song. Rachel Becker, The Verge, "How a volcano scientist set out to change American politics," 7 June 2018 The 323rd Army Band paid homage Tuesday to the heroes of the Alamo with a performance that many assumed would be its swan song — the storied unit’s last big gig in a civilian setting. Sig Christenson, San Antonio Express-News, "Fort Sam’s band will play on — Army reverses breakup decision," 25 Apr. 2018 As far as swan songs go, Tom Hickman’s is right up there with the best of them. Curt Hogg, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "For his final act, Whitnall head coach Tom Hickman wins state title in his final game," 9 June 2018 The very capable hands of Ensemble LPR, a group of inventive musicians devoted to bridging all forms of music, give David Bowie’s swan song the orchestral treatment with Maya Beiser as the soloist. New York Times, "15 Pop, Rock and Jazz Concerts to Check Out in N.Y.C. This Weekend," 7 June 2018 Raf Simons’s swan song at Christian Dior was an all out homage to the 1975 film. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Picnic at Hanging Rock is Back—This Is How 3 Top Designers Have Interpreted the Cult Film," 25 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'swan song.' 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 swan song

1831, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

24 Aug 2018

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The first known use of swan song was in 1831

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More Definitions for swan song

swan song

noun

English Language Learners Definition of swan song

: the last performance or piece of work by an actor, athlete, writer, etc.

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