black swan

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English[edit]

An Australian black swan

Etymology[edit]

A calque, equivalent to black +‎ swan. Roman satirist Juvenal wrote in AD 82 of rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno ("a rare bird in the lands, and very like a black swan"), creating a durable metaphor and expression.

Noun[edit]

black swan (plural black swans)

  1. Cygnus atratus, an Australian swan whose feathers are black. [c. 1700]
  2. Something believed impossible or not to exist, of which an example is subsequently found.

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