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First recorded in 1400–50; late Middle English signet, from Latin cygnus, variant of cycnus, from Greek kýknos “swan”; see -et

A cygnet is a young swan.

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The word cygnet is a general term for a young swan that’s used in the same way that the word duckling is used to refer to a young duck or the word gosling is used to refer to a young goose.

There are several different kinds of swans, including the mute swan, trumpeter swan, tundra swan, and whooper swan. The young of any swan species can be called cygnets.

Example: The ugly duckling in the fairy tale was actually a cygnet—ducklings don’t turn into swans, you know.

The first records of the word cygnet come from the 1400s. It comes from the Latin cygnus, from the Greek kýknos, meaning “swan.” This Latin root serves as the genus name for swans, as well as the name of the swan-shaped constellation Cygnus. The ending -et is used in nouns to indicate smallness. It’s used in the names of other young birds, as well, such as in eaglet (a young eagle) and owlet (a young owl). Baby swans can be called swanlings, but that term is very rare compared to cygnet.

People who don’t know their birds might see a cygnet and casually call it a duckling. But swans are not ducks—they’re much bigger than most ducks, and cygnets are often a bit larger than ducklings. Cygnets reach adulthood after about one year.

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What are some synonyms for cygnet?

What are some words that share a root or word element with cygnet

What are some words that often get used in discussing cygnet?

What are some words cygnet may be commonly confused with?

Cygnet as a technical name for a young swan isn’t as well known as words like duckling or gosling, so it’s most often used by people who know a little about birds.

Swan with cygnet on the lake. pic.twitter.com/crJM79mf2Y

— Hoveton Hall Estate (
HovetonHall) May 16, 2020

Mummy and Daddy Swan have babies! Hatched yesterday, on the river visiting and showing off the bevy when I got in today. 6 glorious little fluff pots of cygnet gorgeousness… pic.twitter.com/3wAosbBrqs

— Plaingoldband (
plaingoldband) May 16, 2020

Look mummy, my wings are huge!