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  • I seem to be running across more and more incorrect uses of this phrase lately. Here's one from the Washington Post:

    "In just six days, Israeli Defense Forces advanced to the edge of the Suez Canal, and in one foul swoop, gained control of Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, the Sinai Peninsula, and the whole of Jerusalem."

    December 31, 2008

  • Pretty appropriate misuse though, eh?

    December 31, 2008

  • One way of approaching trade mark law. Cf full sweep.

    December 31, 2008

  • That occurred to me too, lcs. I wondered if perhaps it was a play on words.

    December 31, 2008

  • I wonder whether anyone has ever experienced more than one fell swoop?

    January 1, 2009

  • Fell swoop occurred in Santayana's The Life of Reason. Vol ! (1907). It is spelled out in two words, but it is used as one word. Should it not be hyphenated? Fell - to take or cut down and swoop - seize with a sweeping motion. ORIGIN: from Shakespeare's Macbeth ( iv. iii. 219).

    June 26, 2011

  • Here, surely, fell is being used as an adjective, meaning "fatal, deadly, ruthless, cruel", not as a verb.

    June 26, 2011

  • Good question, reesetee. Perhaps if more than one was required, it would no longer be quite so fell?

    June 27, 2011

  • Dr. Jamieson provides these colorations of the meaning of fell:

    adjective - keen, hot, biting, singular, extraordinary.

    substantive - lot, fate, destiny; a large quantity.

    --Dr. Jamieson's Scottish Dictionary and Supplement, 1841.

    June 27, 2011

  • You have a point, yarb. I suppose if more than one swoop was fell, it would be more fellish than fell.

    June 28, 2011

  • I'm with rolig on this one; yarb and reesetee seem misguided in their belief that serial ruthlessness is not an option.

    June 28, 2011

  • Serial ruthlessness is certainly an option (albeit a terrible one). But there's something very final about "fatal" and "deadly".

    June 29, 2011

  • No, no, I'm all for serial ruthlessness and practice it frequently, being an editor. But wouldn't you think that after several swoops, one's fell begins to tire?

    June 29, 2011

  • You misunderstand, sionnach, and not for the first time. A particularly ruthless individual may well swoop felly twice, thrice or any number of times, on different targets - but one can't by defintion experience - that is, fall prey to - more than a single such swoop.

    I'm really thinking of the head honcho of the Nazgul, the Witch-King of Angmar, on his faithful fell beast here (I think the fell beasts are more or less the fellest swoopers known to man).

    Whomp, whomp.

    June 29, 2011

  • *swoops in*

    This is one swell foop!


    June 29, 2011

  • A fell beast makes an excellent house guard.

    July 1, 2011