from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A yearly expedition on the Thames to take up young swans and mark them, as by Companies of Dyers and Vintners; -- called also swan-hopping.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The custom or practice of marking the upper mandible of a swan, on behalf of the crown, of Oxford University, and of several London companies or gilds.


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • Milder still was swan-upping on the Thames, the ancient ritual of counting Her Royal Majesty's swans.

    Errol Uys biography

  • But this is not the only ludicrous mistake that has arisen on the subject, since "swan-upping," or the taking up of swans, performed annually by the swan companies, with the Lord Mayor at their head, for the purpose of marking them, has been changed, by an unlucky asperite, into swan-_hopping_, which is perfectly unintelligible.

    The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 12, No. 321, July 5, 1828

  • The time-honoured brutality of swan-upping is now mitigated by law, its cruelty being obvious.

    The Naturalist on the Thames

  • Swans were formerly considered royal birds; and those upon the river Thames are still the property of the crown, and the young ones are marked every year under the superintendence of the Lord Mayor, the ceremony being called swan-hopping, which is said to be derived from swan-upping, a part of the ceremony being to decide how far up the river the swans have a right to go.

    The Lady's Country Companion: or, How to Enjoy a Country Life Rationally

  • Nev Allen went on a solo swan-upping jaunt by scoring all five Constant goals.


  • Carl de Souza/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images A swan took off from the River Thames during the annual swan-upping census in Maidenhead, Berkshire, England Monday.

    Counting the Queen's Swans

  • He presides over the annual ceremony of swan-upping, which, despite its suggestive name, involves nothing more exciting than marking cygnets 'beaks to indicate ownership.

    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly Vol XX No 1

  • For instance, use of the term swan-upping is always greeted with a smile in England.

    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly Vol XII No 2


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  • (noun) - (1) The swan companies annually used to take up the swans for the purpose of marking them. --T. Lewis Davies' Supplemental English Glossary, 1881 (2) Swan-upping was, among our ancestors, a very favorite sport, not unattended by risk, for the birds seldom submitted to the process without a struggle, which occasionally cost the captor a ducking. --W.C. Hazlitt's Faiths and Folklore of the British Isles, 1870 (3) Swan-upper, an official who takes up and marks swans. --Sir James Murray's New English Dictionary, 1919

    January 26, 2018