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A final performance, product, or accomplishment before someone or something stops creating work or products, as due to death, retirement, closure, etc. From the ancient belief that swans issue a beautiful song-like sound just before they die. Reaching, and often surpassing, the dizzying heights of her first novel, this is a remarkable swan song for the accomplished author. Their latest album, the swan song of the legendary rock group, is unfortunately not one of their best.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
Fig. the last work or performance of a playwright, musician, actor, etc., before death or retirement. His portrayal of Lear was the actor's swan song. We didn't know that her performance last night was the singer's swan song.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
A final accomplishment or performance, one's last work. For example, I'm resigning tomorrow; this project was my swan song. This term alludes to the old belief that swans normally are mute but burst into beautiful song moments before they die. Although the idea is much older, the term was first recorded in English only in 1890.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
a swan song
A swan song is the last performance or piece of work that someone does in their career. He had made up his mind that this show was going to be his swan song. Note: This expression developed from a belief that a dying swan sings.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
A farewell appearance or accomplishment; an artist’s last work. This term rests on the ancient belief that swans are mute (most species tend to remain silent in captivity) but burst into song just before they die. The myth has been around since ancient Greek times and was mentioned often by the Elizabethans, especially Shakespeare. Among the most beautiful madrigals of this period is Orlando Gibbons’s “The Silver Swan”: “Who living had no note, When death approach’d unlock’d her silent throat.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
Last effort. An ancient belief held that swans, who are usually silent, burst into beautiful song with their dying breaths. As a phrase, “swan song” connotes a last burst of energy before expiring.
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price