American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. Any of various large aquatic birds of the family Anatidae chiefly of the genera Cygnus and Olor, having webbed feet, a long slender neck, and usually white plumage.
- n. See Cygnus.
- v. Chiefly British To travel around from place to place: "Swanning around Europe nowadays, are we?” ( Jeffrey Archer).
- v. Chiefly Southern U.S. To declare; swear. Used in the phrase I swan as an interjection. See Regional Note at vum.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A large lamellirostral palmiped bird, of the family Anatidæ and subfamily Cygninæ, with a long and flexible neck, naked lores, reticulate tarsi, and simple or slightly lobed hallux. ; ; . The neck is usually held in a graceful curve while the bird is swimming; the inner flight-feathers are usually enlarged, and capable of being erected or set like sails to waft the bird over the water; and in most of the species the plumage of the adults is snow-white in both sexes. The young of the white species are usually grayish or brownish; they are called
cygnets. Swans walk awkwardly on land, in consequence of the backward position of the legs, but their movements on the water are exceptionally graceful and stately. Hence they are very ornamental, and some of them have been kept from time immemorial in a state of domestication. Swans are chiefly herbivorous. The flesh is edible, and the plumage furnishes the valuable swan's-down. There are 8 or 10 species, found in most parts of the world, except Africa. The ordinary white swans fall into two groups—Cygnus proper, with a knob on the beak, and Olor, without a knob; the latter are also distinguished by the resonant quality of the voice, due to the convolutions of the windpipe in the cavity of the breast-bone. In Europe four kinds of swans are found: the common “tame” or mute swan, usually seen in domestication, C. gibbus (by the rules of nomenclature also called C. olor), with a knob on the beak, wedge-shaped tail, and no tracheal convolutions
- n. In heraldry, a bearing representing a swan, usually with the wings raised as it carries them when swimming. It is therefore not necessary to say in the blazon “with wings indorsed.” See below.
- n. In astronomy See Cygnus, 2.
- n. See def. 1.
- To swear: used in the phrase I swan, an expression of emphasis. Also swon.
- n. Any of various species of large, long-necked waterfowl, of genus Cygnus, most of which have white plumage.
- n. figuratively One whose grace etc. suggests a swan.
- v. UK (intransitive) To travel from place to place with no fixed itinerary or purpose.
- v. US, slang To declare (chiefly in first-person present constructions).
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. (Zoöl.) Any one of numerous species of large aquatic birds belonging to Cygnus, Olor, and allied genera of the subfamily
Cygninæ. They have a large and strong beak and a long neck, and are noted for their graceful movements when swimming. Most of the northern species are white. In literature the swan was fabled to sing a melodious song, especially at the time of its death.
- n. Fig.: An appellation for a sweet singer, or a poet noted for grace and melody.
- n. (Astron.) The constellation Cygnus.
- v. sweep majestically
- n. stately heavy-bodied aquatic bird with very long neck and usually white plumage as adult
- v. move about aimlessly or without any destination, often in search of food or employment
- v. to declare or affirm solemnly and formally as true
- Probably from dialectal I s'wan, contraction of "I shall warrant"; later seen as a minced form of I swear. (Wiktionary)
- Middle English, from Old English. Probably alteration of dialectal (I) s' warrant, (I) shall warrant. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“For instance, use of the term swan-upping is always greeted with a smile in England.”
“And something about our culture too, since people seem to assume that scientists are much smarter than non-scientists, even though that isn't necessarily the case (I'd say maybe differently smart). bamboo: Yeah, the the "ugly duckling" smart woman who takes off her glasses and takes her hair out of a bun to become a swan is a movie cliché that I hope I never see again (and I assume you mean that your wife is hot, not ugly with no social skills.) ed t: Doesn't his co-worker Leslie fit that bill?”
“Let fly, then," says I, "in the name of God!" and with that I fired again among the amazed wretches, and so did Friday; and as our pieces were now loaded with what I call swan-shot, or small pistol-bullets, we found only two drop; but so many were wounded that they ran about yelling and screaming like mad creatures, all bloody, and most of them miserably wounded; whereof three more fell quickly after, though not quite dead.”
“Upper Ririe reservoir, north of St. Anthony Sand Dunes, the flats in swan valley are pretty good places.”
“In Tuesday's pictures, a Pakistani girl learns about the Quran, militants strike the parliament in Chechnya, a swan is captured on London streets and more.”
“The reason I asked about the swan is that I've known a few state wildlife biologists personally throughout the years.”
“Clio's swan is also missing at Gubbio, although it is difficult to imagine that the muse of History would not have been figured into both studioli by some erudite and clever means.”
“It may be that the swan is paddling furiously below the surface of the water, but one does not have a sense of great urgency.”
“It turns out the swan is controlling a work hole with an infinite field effect.”
“On the morrow the king, when he had shaken off slumber, told the vision to a man skilled in interpretations, who explained the wolf to denote a son that would be truculent and the word swan as signifying a daughter; and foretold that the son would be deadly to enemies and the daughter treacherous to her father.”
These user-created lists contain the word ‘swan’.
A list of common animal names. Keep the list to 1 syllable words.No scientific names. No proper names like 'Fluffy' the elephant.Insects and other creatures (even ficticious) are welcome!You can ...
birds with singular names from
at least 9 English dictionaries
Names of animals that are also used to describe kinds of people. Nouns only, preferably single word.
For a related list, see sionnach's beastly verbs.
It's not their fault (in most cases). It's the people who love them too much, for the wrong reasons. That makes some animals impossible for me to appreciate in a non-ironic way.
Birds endemic to the United States and/or North America.
words that evoke magic, mystery, mayhem, magnificence or anything else that glimmers in the grass
being words from Tom Waits songs.
Culling my main Favorites list, and noticing how few of my favorite words are verbs. I'll have to work on that...
Looking for tweets for swan.