Swanning around origin
April 25, 2007 9:03 PM Subscribe
I'm looking for the earliest appearance of the phrase 'swanning around' - To travel around from place to place aimlessly.
posted by tellurian to Writing & Language (9 answers total)
A friend says that she had read somewhere that its origins are in World War II and refers to the appearance of the tank turrets and guns and how they used to look a little lost as they were moving about so it became 'to swan'.
The on-line dictionaries I've consulted cite Jeffrey Archer! “Swanning around Europe nowadays, are we?”
. The oldest Google book usage I could find was 1923
(Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry), so I'm sure my friend is wrong unless she mixed up the World Wars. Has anyone got a Partridge handy to look up swan? Can any of you dig up something earlier?
Also, a search for 'swan around' turns up a 1907
mention, but without preview, so I can't see the context. Considering the title (Our Plymouth Forefathers: The Real Founders of Our Republic), it may well be - 'they decided to cook a turkey because there were no swan around'.