at one fell swoop


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Related to at one fell swoop: out of whack

at one fell swoop

All at once, with a single decisive or powerful action. When the economy crashed, thousands lost their jobs, their homes, and their pensions at one fell swoop.
See also: fell, one, swoop

one fell swoop

A single decisive or powerful action. When the economy crashed, thousands lost their jobs, their homes, and their pensions in one fell swoop. With one fell swoop, the military junta arrested the prime minister, executed its enemies in parliament, and assumed total control of the country.
See also: fell, one, swoop

at one fell swoop

 and in one fell swoop
Fig. in a single incident; as a single event. (This phrase preserves the old word fell, meaning "terrible" or "deadly.") The party guests ate up all the snacks at one fell swoop. When the stock market crashed, many large fortunes were wiped out in one fell swoop.
See also: fell, one, swoop

at/in one fell ˈswoop

with a single action or movement; all at the same time: Only a foolish politician would promise to lower the rate of inflation and reduce unemployment at one fell swoop.
See also: fell, one, swoop

at one fell swoop

A single operation, often a violent one. This term was coined by Shakespeare, who used the metaphor of a hell-kite (probably a vulture) killing chickens for the murder of Macduff’s wife and children: “Oh, Hell-Kite! All? What, all my pretty chickens and their dam at one fell swoop?” (Macbeth, 4.3). The adjective fell was Old English for “fierce” or “savage.”
See also: fell, one, swoop

one fell swoop

A single and rapid act. “Fell” comes from an Old English word for frightful and “swoop” describes the way hawks and other birds of prey drop out of the sky to capture their victims. Accordingly, something that is done “in one fell swoop,” whether or not it is awful, happens with no hesitation. Shakespeare coined the phrase in Macbeth, where the character Macduff laments the murders of his wife and children with “What, all my pretty chick- ens and their dam / At one fell swoop?”
See also: fell, one, swoop