Definition of black swan in English:

black swan


  • 1A mainly black swan with white flight feathers which is common in Australia and Tasmania and has been introduced elsewhere.

    • ‘One day, I took a short-cut across St James's Park and saw, in the lake, a black swan.’
    • ‘There were black swans and white swans in the park, and a huge dolls' house where rabbits lived.’
    • ‘The Delhi zoo had about 4-5 pairs of black swans, but now their numbers has come down to one male and two females.’
    • ‘The black swans were given to the university by the Wildlife And Wetlands Trust, in exchange for Pochard duck eggs.’
    • ‘There was also a mass of black swans, making little cooing sounds that reminded me of learning to play the recorder in primary school.’
  • 2An unpredictable or unforeseen event, typically one with extreme consequences.

    ‘the bank industry's vulnerability to black swans’
    as modifier ‘black swan events always look eminently predictable in hindsight, yet no one ever predicts them’
    • ‘Stimulus after stimulus leaves us with no savings, overleveraged and unable to cope with the next "black swan" that comes along.’
    • ‘Observers of black swans tend to overestimate the analysable and underestimate the non-explainable.’
    • ‘Options provide the right to buy a stock at a prearranged price in the future, presumably helping to protect buyers from black swans.’
    • ‘Proponents of black swan strategies argue that during the financial crisis, most markets moved downward at the same time, and therefore those who counted on diversification to save them were sorely disappointed.’
    • ‘I hope this system will improve our reliability to the point where the only outages we suffer are really the extremely unexpected black swans.’
    • ‘He also argues that one of the problems with black swans is that, although they are prospectively unpredictable, in retrospect they look like they could have been foreseen.’
    • ‘Black swans are unpredictable, Taleb argues, because by their nature they represent a break with what has come before.’
    • ‘A black swan event tends to answer a question never asked.’
    • ‘Not all black swans are bad: some of them, like the rise of the Internet, are fantastically good.’
    • ‘But in risk management we need to deal with black swans that have consequences.’
    • ‘The focus of the investigation should not be on how to avoid any specific black swan, for we don't know where the next one is coming from.’
    • ‘Traders stop blaming losses on so-called Black Swans and instead accept that their own models are wrong.’
    • ‘The black swan concept focuses on an individual event instead of the cumulative probability of the numerous events that will lead to the same outcome.’
    • ‘Black swan events only exist if we focus on causes instead of outcomes.’
    • ‘To defend ourselves against black swans, general knowledge is a crucial first step.’
    • ‘The great financial crisis of 2008 to 2009, whose consequences still blight our economy, is sometimes portrayed as a black swan.’
    • ‘At the same time, even if we were to accept that black swans really are the drivers of history, would that necessarily mean that they are unpredictable?’
    • ‘The prospect of a black swan event is interesting and worth thinking about.’
    • ‘Black swans can have extreme effects: just a few explain almost everything, from the success of some ideas and religions to events in our personal lives.’
    • ‘No one could have foreseen that so many of the financial innovations would turn into black swans.’
  • 3Something extremely rare.

    ‘husbands without faults, if such black swans there be’
    • ‘Viewed in this framework, all scientific theorisations (economic or otherwise) are basically waiting for the black swan.’
    • ‘Our system of rewards is not adapted to black swans.’
    • ‘The statement is a paradox which cannot be tested empirically - no matter how many black swans you look for - and whose truth-value cannot be judged.’