Definition of swan in US English:


nounPlural swans

  • 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

    • ‘I'd walk to school along the Dodder and watch the abundance of wildlife - kingfishers, ducks, geese and swans.’
    • ‘The canal is a breeding ground for swans, geese, moorhens and other wildlife.’
    • ‘The whole morning passed quickly as we killed three wild ducks, one swan and one guinea fowl.’
    • ‘Most ducks are sexually mature at one or two years of age, whereas geese and swans may mature at five years.’
    • ‘He liked to watch the swans and the geese in the big pond with the fancy arched bridge and the little gazebo.’
    • ‘Experts say migratory birds such as swans and geese are likely responsible for the westward spread of the bird flu virus.’
    • ‘Going around the lake I observed crested grebes, coots, moorhens, ducks, swans and herons.’
    • ‘Only during the last two years of our study did swans tend to feed outside of the study area along the shallower northern rim of the marsh.’
    • ‘Between March and September the rare osprey visits and there are duck, geese, swans, grouse, herons and buzzards.’
    • ‘The Sun accused asylum seekers of stealing and eating swans and ducks from parks around London.’
    • ‘Binoculars are supplied so you can view the black teal, swans, dabchicks, ducks and even the spotless crake or elusive bittern.’
    • ‘The north Kent marshes, which run from Gravesend to Whitstable, are a home and breeding ground for ducks, geese, swans and waders.’
    • ‘Look out for geese, swans and ducks wearing their fancy breeding plumage and strutting their stuff in search of a mate.’
    • ‘Lead poisoning has long been a problem for this species, because ingesting only a few lead pellets can kill a swan.’
    • ‘To appreciate a swan spectacular on a grand sale, visit the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust's Welney reserve.’
    • ‘In the summer season, swans and sandhill cranes flock to the province by the millions.’
    • ‘We lured the swans from the water with bread morsels and captured them by hand.’
    • ‘Ever-mindful of the swans, the ducks flapped as they fought for pieces of crust that floated, and dived for bits of bread that sunk.’
    • ‘In addition to ducks, geese and swans are on the checklist.’
    • ‘Quill pens were generally cut from the outer hollow wing feathers of swans or geese but feathers from eagles, crows, and turkeys were also found to be suitable.’
    poet, versifier, verse-maker, rhymester, rhymer, sonneteer, lyricist, lyrist, elegist
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verbswanned, swans, swanning

  • no object, with adverbial of direction 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’
    • ‘Across Russia there was fury that while the people feared the worst for 116 of their compatriots their leader was swanning around on holiday.’
    • ‘These people who work for the national health are there because they care about you and me over swanning around in private care patching up the middle classes after a golfing accident.’
    • ‘A few years before him it was Gretchen Mol swanning on the cover.’
    • ‘His back header confounded the makeshift Lions' back four, Brown swanning in to volley definitively into the roof of Main's net.’
    • ‘Everybody's taking up diving these days - but they all want to be Jacques Cousteau, swanning about in the coral with hammerhead sharks and manta rays.’
    • ‘I was swanning around a coffee shop in the mall the other day with good friends Simon and Bradley, sipping long flat whites and commenting derogatorily on the undesirables that were filing past.’
    • ‘But Stone's Tramell has become a tedious presence to be around, swanning about the place in almost cartoonish fashion and stripping the character of any real intrigue.’
    • ‘Indeed they have, and not go swanning off fighting righteous crusades against dictators hamstrung by UN weapons inspection programmes in the cause of making the President popular.’
    • ‘All those lazy swines like him get away with murder, driving around in their Jags and swanning around without a care in the world.’
    • ‘It's all very well for him to come swanning up here from London and perpetuate the image but we have to pick up the pieces.’
    • ‘My whole big plan is going to have to go on hold for a good year more because I won't be able to go swanning off overseas when I have to make mortgage payments.’
    • ‘You went from having jet-set stars like Pelé, Beckenbauer and Best swanning around to a system that would have at best been described as semi-professional.’
    • ‘I don't know, swarthy Latin flowers swanning over here, stealing our innocent British flowers and ‘interfering with their genetic integrity’.’
    • ‘The parentals are swanning off to Niue on Christmas Day this year for a little R&R.’
    • ‘So they started swanning around the room taking elegant drags off their imaginary cigarettes and then immediately pretending to hack up a lung.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He found he derived ‘more satisfaction in ten days over Christmas than I did in the rest of the year swanning around the world’.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The Prime Minister has been swanning around Africa at our expense, wiping out many thousands of pounds owed to us by these different African countries.’
    meander, make one's way, wind one's way, find one's way, pick one's way
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Old English, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zwaan and German Schwan. The current sense of the verb originated as military slang, referring to the free movement of armored vehicles.