Definition of swan in English:

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Pronunciation: /swän/


A large waterbird with a long flexible neck, short legs, webbed feet, a broad bill, and typically all-white plumage.
  • Genus Cygnus (and Coscoroba): several species.
Example sentences
  • Between March and September the rare osprey visits and there are duck, geese, swans, grouse, herons and buzzards.
  • Experts say migratory birds such as swans and geese are likely responsible for the westward spread of the bird flu virus.
  • Most ducks are sexually mature at one or two years of age, whereas geese and swans may mature at five years.

verb (swans, swanning, swanned)

[no object] informal
Move about or go somewhere in a casual, relaxed way, typically perceived as irresponsible or ostentatious by others: swanning around in a $2,000 sharkskin suit doesn’t make you a Renaissance prince
More example sentences
  • Theirs was a union made in hell and they soon drifted apart, Smith swanning around town like a bachelor with his bohemian chums while his wife Anne piled on the weight and drank Famous Grouse whiskey.
  • Taking the mickey out of modern dance, they conjure up moves by all the greats, starting with Isadora Duncan swanning around the Louvre and ending in a symphony of blue.
  • Now we move over to the Hoyland house, where Kayla is swanning around the living room looking like she's instantly been transformed back to her pre-baby figure.



Pronunciation: /-ˌlīk/
Example sentences
  • With her swanlike neck and 20-inch waist, Hepburn certainly inspired generations of women with her sleek, virtually unadorned style, consisting of black polo-necks, narrow capri pants, flat pumps and a slick flick of eyeliner.
  • She survived too into Christian times, as the Goddess Victory (with swanlike wings like Nike.)
  • Her curling hair is swept up in back of her head, showcasing her swanlike neck and ivory complexion, but it's her fiery gaze that attracts Jonnie's attention.


Old English, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zwaan and German Schwan.

  • The bird's name and the verb swan, meaning ‘to go about in a casual or ostentatious way’, are the same word. The verb originated as military slang as recently as the 1940s, referring to the free movement of armoured vehicles. A swansong (early 19th century) or final public performance or work is based on German Schwanengesang, which refers to the classical legend that the normally mute swan is supposed to sing just before its death. The legend is also behind the long association of bards and poets with swans, hence Shakespeare's title the Swan of Avon.

Words that rhyme with swan

aide-de-camp, aides-de-camp, anon, Asunción, au courant, begone, Bonn, bon vivant, Caen, Canton, Carcassonne, Ceylon, chaconne, chateaubriand, ci-devant, Colón, colon, Concepción, con (US conn), cretonne, don, Duchamp, Evonne, foregone, fromage blanc, Gabon, Garonne, gone, guenon, hereupon, Inchon, Jean, john, Jon, Le Mans, León, Luzon, Mont Blanc, Narbonne, odds-on, on, outgone, outshone, Perón, phon, piñon, Pinot Blanc, plafond, Ramón, Saigon, Saint-Saëns, Sand, Schwann, scone, shone, side-on, sine qua non, Sorbonne, spot-on, thereon, thereupon, ton, Toulon, undergone, upon, Villon, wan, whereon, whereupon, won, wonton, yon, Yvonne

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: swan

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