Swooping out of the clear blue sky, the blue jay appeared on the branch.

What does "swooping out of the clear blue sky" mean?

Does it mean "to float in the air" or "to descend to somewhere"?

I also saw "swooping out of sight" and "women swooping out of a 1911 Baker Electric" on the Internet. Is it different usage?

  • 1
    Looking it up... dictionary.reference.com/browse/swoop gives the very first definition as "verb (used without object) 1. to sweep through the air, as a bird or a bat, especially down upon prey." -- seems pretty clear to me. "Out of the sky" means "from nowhere in particular". – Victor Bazarov Oct 6 '15 at 18:20
  • @VictorBazarov: It's not entirely clear how that fits the third example given, so it might be good to rework around that. – Nathan Tuggy Oct 6 '15 at 19:20
  • @NathanTuggy: By the third example you mean the quote with women swooping? – Victor Bazarov Oct 6 '15 at 19:23
  • @VictorBazarov: Yes. Editing the question to focus on that might work, but either way that seems worth answering. – Nathan Tuggy Oct 6 '15 at 19:24

What does "swooping out of the clear blue sky" mean ?

Since "swoop" means (here) "sweep through the air, as a bird or a bat" (from dictionary.reference.com), we conclude that the motion of the blue jay is to gracefully, gradually, following a smooth curve, fly [down].

The words "out of the clear blue sky" can mean "from nowhere in particular", although here they can mean literally, "from some distance/altitude at which the blue jay wasn't visible (due to haze or distance)".

So, to answer your second question

Does it mean "to float in the air" or "to descend to somewhere"?

yes, pretty much.

"Swooping out of sight" also suggests gradual movement, smooth flight along a curved path, without sudden changes in direction or speed, then disappearing from the view.

"Swooping out of 1911 Baker Electric" means with a graceful, smooth motion, possibly with skirts in hand (reminiscent of a bird's wings), alighting from that vehicle.

  • 2
    I think "swoop" connotes swift movement, not gradual; and though "out of the blue" expresses, figuratively, "unexpectedly, from no evident source", I think a bird swooping from a "clear blue sky" ( which is after all where a bird would be expected to come from) must be taken literally. – StoneyB on hiatus Oct 6 '15 at 19:48
  • Literally, probably. Or possible allusion to idioms.thefreedictionary.com/out+of+a+clear+blue+sky . – Victor Bazarov Oct 6 '15 at 19:53

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