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

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 There's some serious competition here from Brunson and Fanning, not to mention a lot of love for Rae's Insecure swan song. Kristen Baldwin, EW.com, 8 Sep. 2022 Take a look at who was in the stands for Serena’s swan song. Rivea Ruff, Essence, 2 Sep. 2022 But the pressure on the No. 1 seed was lessened, of course, by the tournament’s dominant story line: the swan song of Serena Williams. Louisa Thomas, The New Yorker, 11 Sep. 2022 The motif was big and heavy, and this might be his swan song. Jazz Tangcay, Variety, 10 Feb. 2022 This was a perfect swan song for the Spider-Man trilogy, but also left the door open for more adventures in the future. Jacob Siegal, BGR, 9 July 2022 To me, 4:44 had the makings of being Hov’s swan song. Billboard Staff, Billboard, 24 May 2022 Despite the temptation to consider the concerto — finished just months before Mozart’s death — a swan song, this is a work of singular, almost problematic, affability. Lukas Schulze, San Diego Union-Tribune, 13 June 2022 Matador Records catalog with the Farewell Horizontal edition of their 1999 studio swan song Terror Twilight. Ron Hart, SPIN, 25 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

25 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Swan song.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/swan%20song. Accessed 29 Sep. 2022.

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