O Columbianus

Swan Swan (sw[o^]n), n. [AS. swan; akin to D. zwaan, OHG. swan, G. schwan, Icel. svanr, Sw. svan, Dan. svane; and perhaps to E. sound something audible.] 1. (Zo["o]l.) Any one of numerous species of large aquatic birds belonging to {Cygnus}, {Olor}, and allied genera of the subfamily {Cygnin[ae]}. They have a large and strong beak and a long neck, and are noted for their graceful movements when swimming. Most of the northern species are white. In literature the swan was fabled to sing a melodious song, especially at the time of its death. [1913 Webster]

Note: The European white, or mute, swan ({Cygnus gibbus}), which is most commonly domesticated, bends its neck in an S-shaped curve. The whistling, or trumpeting, swans of the genus {Olor} do not bend the neck in an S-shaped curve, and are noted for their loud and sonorous cry, due to complex convolutions of the windpipe. To this genus belong the European whooper, or whistling swan ({Olor cygnus}), the American whistling swan ({O. Columbianus}), and the trumpeter swan ({O. buccinator}). The Australian black swan ({Chenopis atrata}) is dull black with white on the wings, and has the bill carmine, crossed with a white band. It is a very graceful species and is often domesticated. The South American black-necked swan ({Sthenelides melancorypha}) is a very beautiful and graceful species, entirely white, except the head and neck, which are dark velvety seal-brown. Its bill has a double bright rose-colored knob. [1913 Webster]

2. Fig.: An appellation for a sweet singer, or a poet noted for grace and melody; as Shakespeare is called the swan of Avon. [1913 Webster]

3. (Astron.) The constellation Cygnus. [1913 Webster]

{Swan goose} (Zo["o]l.), a bird of India ({Cygnopsis cygnoides}) resembling both the swan and the goose.

{Swan shot}, a large size of shot used in fowling. [1913 Webster]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

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