At one fell swoop


      • to do something quickly and efficiently
        To accomplish a task or goal in a single, swift action or effort, without wasting time or energy on smaller, less significant steps

      • to suffer a sudden and devastating loss
        To experience a sudden and severe setback or misfortune, often resulting in great loss or damage

    Examples of At one fell swoop

    • The new CEO restructured the entire organization, laying off several departments at one fell swoop.

      The CEO made a drastic change all at once, eliminating multiple departments quickly and simultaneously.

    • With the game tied and only seconds left on the clock, Mariah scored three goals at one fell swoop to win the championship.

      Mariah achieved something remarkable in a single, decisive action by scoring three goals back-to-back very quickly.

    • He cleared the table of all its contents at one fell swoop, his anger evident from the sweeping motion of his arm.

      The person removed everything from the table in one continuous, forceful action, likely in a moment of strong emotion.

    • The magician astounded the audience by making all the doves disappear at one fell swoop.

      The magician performed a trick where, seemingly all at once, every dove was made to vanish, surprising the viewers.

    • With the signing of the treaty, the warring nations ceased hostilities at one fell swoop.

      The signing of the agreement brought an immediate end to the fighting between the countries in a single, comprehensive action.

    • The swift government intervention resolved the crisis at one fell swoop.

      The government acted quickly and decisively to deal with the problem in one effective move.

    • Jennifer at one fell swoop decided to quit her job, sell her house, and travel the world.

      Jennifer made several significant life changes all together in a sudden and bold move.

    • At one fell swoop, the thunderstorm knocked out power throughout the entire city.

      The storm caused a city-wide power outage in one rapid and extensive event.


    The idiom "at one fell swoop" is typically used to describe the efficient and swift completion of a task or goal, without wasting time or energy on smaller, less significant steps. It can also refer to experiencing a sudden and devastating loss or setback. In both cases, the idiom emphasizes the speed and impact of the action or event.

    Origin of "At one fell swoop"

    The phrase "at one fell swoop" can be traced back to William Shakespeare's play Macbeth, where it is used by the character Macduff to describe the brutal murder of his family. The original phrase used in the play is "one fell swoop," with the word "at" being added later. The word "fell" in this context means "cruel" or "savage," and it is believed that Shakespeare may have derived it from the Old French word "fel" meaning "cruel" or "wicked."

    Over time, the phrase evolved to take on its current meaning of swift and efficient action, as well as experiencing a sudden and devastating loss. This may be due to the dramatic and impactful connotations associated with the original usage in Macbeth. The phrase has also been used in other literary works and has become a common expression in everyday language.

    In conclusion, the idiom "at one fell swoop" originated from Shakespeare's play Macbeth and has evolved to be used in different contexts, including describing efficient action and experiencing sudden loss. Its origins can be traced back to the Old French language and it has become a well-known and widely used phrase in English.