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One fell swoop

Posted by James Briggs on January 23, 2002

In Reply to: One fell swoop posted by Wesley on January 23, 2002

: What is the origin and original meaning of the common phrase "one fell swoop"? "Fell"? Thanks.

A fell swoop is a sudden, complete and often unexpected event; over and done with great speed and totality. Why fell? This comes from the 13th century Old French word "fel" meaning "cruel". The speed of a fell swoop is so great as to be regarded as cruel by some. Our word Felon comes from the same source.

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