fowl swoop vs fell swoop : Common Errors in English

About fowl swoop vs fell swoop

Poor Macduff, learning that Macbeth has had his wife and children murdered, cries “What, all my pretty chickens and their dam/At one fell swoop?” Thus enters the language a popular phrase meaning “terrible blow” (the image is of a ruthless hawk swooping down to slaughter helpless chicks).The old meaning of “fell” to mean “savage,” “cruel,” or “ruthless” has otherwise pretty much died out, so that many people mistakenly substitute “foul” or “fowl” for “fell.” “Fell” in this sense is related to words like “felon” and “felony.”The mangled form “swell foop” is a popular bit of humor which should at least remind you that the first word in the phrase has to rhyme with “swell.”

fell swoop in News

  • Platt: Alder and Pearl & Ash Deliver More Than They Promise

    Like all great experimental artists , Wylie Dufresne has had times, during the course of his long and storied ­career, when he has strived so mightily to stay ahead of the curve that he’s ­ended up being ever so slightly behind it. Alder , which opened not long ago in a dimly lit bolt-hole of a space on lower ­Second Avenue, appears to have been ­designed to remedy this problem in one fell swoop ...
    on June 10, 2013 Source: New York Magazine

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