swan song


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 According to the actress who plays her, season 2 is the time traveling villain's swan song. Ineye Komonibo, refinery29.com, "Answers To Every Question You Have About Umbrella Academy’s The Handler," 2 Aug. 2020 Four and a half months ago, when the Spurs were heading into the home stretch of their most disappointing season of the millennium, the smart money was on Popovich using the 2020 Summer Olympics as his swan song and DeRozan hitting free agency. Mike Finger, ExpressNews.com, "Mike Finger: Might Gregg Popovich and DeMar DeRozan now find reason to stay?," 30 July 2020 That concept of the swan song—one’s last, most beautiful expression—also comes up in Aesop’s fables and in Aeschylus’s Agamemnon, and was already a proverb by the third century B.C. Zeynep Tufekci, The Atlantic, "The Tragic Loss of Coronavirus Patients’ Final Words," 9 July 2020 Vida’s swan song — which runs a super-sized 53 minutes — quickly puts the Hernandez sisters through their emotional paces before saying goodbye. Ariana Romero, refinery29.com, "Vida May Be Over, But Creator Tanya Saracho Knows How Her Show Lives On," 31 May 2020 With Popovich’s summertime job with Team USA expected to hit a crescendo with this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo — assuming they are still held — there had been rising speculation this season could be Popovich’s NBA swan song. Jeff Mcdonald, ExpressNews.com, "If the Spurs’ season is over, now what?," 14 Mar. 2020 The designer’s swan song, which featured a cast of international celebrities and a full-scale performance from Boy George, was the talk of Paris. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Sonam Kapoor Ahuja Was Couture’s Front-Row MVP," 24 Jan. 2020 The first look at Daniel Craig‘s swan song has arrived. Ale Russian, PEOPLE.com, "Watch the First Trailer for Daniel Craig's Final James Bond Film No Time to Die," 4 Dec. 2019 Dreems, the final output of Cassius as a duo, now serves as Zdar’s swan song. John Ochoa, Billboard, "Billboard Dance Summer 2019 Music Guide: 15 Must-Hear Releases From Griz, Marshmello, Illenium & More," 24 June 2019

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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The first known use of swan song was in 1831

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Last Updated

7 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Swan song.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/swan%20song. Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for swan song

swan song


English Language Learners Definition of swan song

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

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