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

But other parts of the relatively short presentation, lasting about an hour and a half, felt somewhat like a swan song for the more-than 80-year-old movie company founded through the merger of Fox Film and Twentieth Century Pictures in 1935. Ryan Faughnder, latimes.com, "Disney acquisition looms over Fox’s CinemaCon presentation," 26 Apr. 2018 Scott made them in the shapes of slot machines and washing machines, while Lagerfeld turned a ski gondola into the must-have cross-body from his swan song at Chanel. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "The 8 Best Accessory Trends of Fall 2019," 14 Mar. 2019 For Pfizer, the deal represents a late swan song for departing Chief Executive Ian Read, who earlier this year failed to sell the consumer health-care business in an auction. Denise Roland, WSJ, "Pfizer, Glaxo to Create Over-the-Counter Drug Giant," 19 Dec. 2018 The reversal represents a surprise capitulation for departing Chief Executive Paul Polman, who made the consolidation effort his swan song. Saabira Chaudhuri, WSJ, "Unilever Drops Plan to Leave London Amid Shareholder Revolt," 5 Oct. 2018 The model's swan song will be a Final Edition trim. Andrew Moseman, Popular Mechanics, "The VW Beetle Is Dead Because They Made It Too Good," 13 Sep. 2018 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

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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18 May 2019

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The first known use of swan song was in 1831

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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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