swan

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English[edit]

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A swan.

Pronunciation[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

From Old English swan, from Proto-Germanic *swanaz. Cognate with West Frisian swan, Low German Swaan, swan, Dutch zwaan, German Schwan, Swedish svan, probably literally "the singing bird," from a Proto-Indo-European base *swon-/*swen- "to sing, make sound". Related to Old English geswin (melody, song) and swinsian (to make melody).

Noun[edit]

swan (plural swans or swan)

  1. Any of various species of large, long-necked waterfowl, of genus Cygnus, most of which have white plumage.
  2. (figuratively) One whose grace etc. suggests a swan.
Derived terms[edit]
Translations[edit]
See also[edit]

Verb[edit]

swan (third-person singular simple present swans, present participle swanning, simple past and past participle swanned)

  1. (UK, intransitive) To travel or move about in an aimless, idle, or pretentiously casual way.
    • 2010, Lee Rourke, The Canal, Melville House Publishing (2010), ISBN 9781935554905, unnumbered page:
      He swans around that stinking office in his expensive clothes that are a little too tight for comfort, he swans around that stinking office without a care in the world.
    • 2013, Tilly Bagshawe, One Summer’s Afternoon, HarperCollins (2013), ISBN 9780007472550, unnumbered page:
      One of the few strokes of good luck Emma had had in recent days was the news that Tatiana Flint-Hamilton, her only real rival for top billing as 'most photographable girl' at today's event had decided to swan off to Sardinia instead, leaving the limelight entirely to Emma.
Usage notes[edit]
  • In the sense "to travel", usually used as part of the phrase "to swan about" or "to swan around".

Etymology 2[edit]

Probably from dialectal I s'wan, contraction of "I shall warrant"; later seen as a minced form of I swear.

Verb[edit]

swan (third-person singular simple present swans, present participle swanning, simple past and past participle swanned)

  1. (US, slang) To declare (chiefly in first-person present constructions).
    • 1907 December, J. D. Archer, Foiling an eavesdropper, in Telephony, volume 14, page 345:
      "Well, I swan, man, I had a better opinion of you than that."
    • 1940, Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely, Penguin 2010, page 214:
      ‘She slammed the door so hard I figured a window'd break [] .’ ‘I swan,’ I said.

Anagrams[edit]


Old English[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

From Proto-Germanic *swanaz, probably from Proto-Indo-European *swen- (to sound, resound). Compare Old Saxon swan (Low German Swaan), Dutch zwaan, Old High German swan (German Schwan), Old Norse svanr (Swedish svan).

Noun[edit]

swan m

  1. swan
Descendants[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Proto-Germanic *swainiz, whence also Old High German swein, Old Norse sveinn, English swain

Noun[edit]

swān m

  1. lad

West Frisian[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Old Frisian *swan, from Proto-Germanic *swanaz (swan), probably from Proto-Indo-European *swen- (to sound, resound). Compare English swan, Dutch zwaan, Low German Swaan, German Schwan, Swedish svan.

Noun[edit]

swan c

  1. swan