het·​ero·​sex·​u·​al | \ˌhe-tə-rō-ˈsek-sh(ə-)wəl, -ˈsek-shəl\

Definition of heterosexual 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of, relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward the opposite sex

b : of, relating to, or involving sexual intercourse between individuals of opposite sex

2 : of or relating to different sexes



Definition of heterosexual (Entry 2 of 2)

: a heterosexual person

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Other Words from heterosexual


heterosexuality \ ˌhe-​tə-​rō-​ˌsek-​shə-​ˈwa-​lə-​tē \ noun
heterosexually \ ˌhe-​tə-​rō-​ˈsek-​sh(ə-​)wə-​lē , -​ˈsek-​shə-​lē \ adverb

Examples of heterosexual in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Meanwhile the fight to secure civil partnership rights for heterosexual couples has been dragging on for years. Christina Boyle, latimes.com, "Britain's royal family is ready for its first same-sex marriage — even as some straight Britons opt out," 3 July 2018 Very rarely does the male partner of a heterosexual couple get it right (at least, not on YouTube). Sarah Spellings, The Cut, "Adorable 84-Year-Old Learns to Do His Wife’s Makeup," 6 June 2018 But the majority of romance novels on the best-seller lists are by and about white, heterosexual people. Alexandra Alter, New York Times, "The Changing Face of Romance Novels," 7 July 2018 Not to mention, kisses featuring heterosexual couples of the same age can be found on YouTube with no age gate. Noelle Devoe, Seventeen, ""The Fosters"' Gavin MacIntosh Calls Out YouTube for Blocking The Historic #Jonnor Kiss," 31 Mar. 2015 According to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2007-2017 Youth Behavior Survey Data Summary and Trends Report, LGBT youth are more at risk of being bullied or feeling unsafe at school than heterosexual teens. Lauren Castle, azcentral, "Arizona groups offer health, housing help to LGBT youth," 14 July 2018 Everyone is comfortable, and gay, lesbian and heterosexual couples mingle. NBC News, "On stage, Russian drag stars leave fears behind," 10 July 2018 The duo’s latest project is, to be sure, far from a revolutionary examination of heterosexual love and affection. Taylor Hosking, The Atlantic, "Beyonce and Jay-Z’s New Vision of Gender in ‘Apeshit’," 22 June 2018 Main Street used to be mostly white, male and heterosexual. Steve Strauss, USA TODAY, "USA & Main: Welcome to USA TODAY's new storefront for small businesses and entrepreneurs," 7 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Yet other configurations are certainly possible, given that heterosexuals aren’t the only ones doing the seducing, as well as the heightened gatekeeping demanded of us all these days. Laura Kipnis, The Cut, "Should There Be a Future for Seduction?," 10 June 2018 Research suggests that some people in the LGBT community are more likely to have certain chronic conditions and face higher prevalence and earlier onset of disabilities compared to heterosexuals, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Guy Boulton, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Froedtert Health and Medical College of Wisconsin to open clinic that focuses on LGBTQ community," 8 June 2018 National lawmakers are negotiating a revision of the criminal code, including provisions pushed by Islamic parties that would imprison gay people or unmarried cohabiting heterosexuals. Anita Rachman, WSJ, "Indonesia’s Islamic Floggings Will Move Indoors Where Kids Can’t See," 12 Apr. 2018 Now the 27-year-old delegate argued against him, never mentioning his name, urging a ban on the practice of trying to convert young gay, lesbian or transgender people into heterosexuals. Erin Cox, baltimoresun.com, "Maryland delegate says her parents, including a state senator, pushed her to use conversion therapy," 5 Apr. 2018 He has been counted as among the first to demonstrate the AIDS virus could spread among heterosexuals, and argued early in the epidemic that AIDS wasn't a threat only to gay men and injection drug users. Mike Stobbe, chicagotribune.com, "Leading AIDS researcher selected as new CDC director," 22 Mar. 2018 In this framework, there is one original sinner: white male heterosexuals — either alive or haunting us from the grave in the form of the Dead White Men studied in old Western Civilization courses. Joshua Mitchell, National Review, "The Identity-Politics Death Grip," 26 Oct. 2017 For heterosexuals, however, the outcome of the second and third hypotheses would be the same. The Economist, "Best matesWhat eyes and odours reveal about sexual attraction," 12 Oct. 2017 In 1993, when New York City began a domestic partnership registry to extend housing, health insurance and other benefits to gays, lesbians and unmarried heterosexuals, Ms. Windsor and Dr. Spyer were among the first to sign up. Robert D. Mcfadden, New York Times, "Edith Windsor, Whose Same-Sex Marriage Fight Led to Landmark Ruling, Dies at 88," 12 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'heterosexual.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of heterosexual


1892, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1892, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for heterosexual


International Scientific Vocabulary

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Last Updated

8 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for heterosexual

The first known use of heterosexual was in 1892

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English Language Learners Definition of heterosexual

: sexually attracted to people of the opposite sex

: based on sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex


het·​ero·​sex·​u·​al | \ˌhet-ə-rō-ˈseksh-(ə-)wəl, -ˈsek-shəl \

Medical Definition of heterosexual 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of, relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward individuals of the opposite sex — compare homosexual sense 1

b : of, relating to, or involving sexual intercourse between a male and a female sexual relationships between individuals of opposite sexes are heterosexual— A. C. Kinsey — compare homosexual sense 2

2 : of or relating to different sexes

Other Words from heterosexual

heterosexually \ -​ˈseksh-​(ə-​)wə-​lē, -​ˈsek-​shə-​lē \ adverb



Medical Definition of heterosexual (Entry 2 of 2)

: a heterosexual individual

More from Merriam-Webster on heterosexual

Spanish Central: Translation of heterosexual

Nglish: Translation of heterosexual for Spanish Speakers

Comments on heterosexual

What made you want to look up heterosexual? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


playful or foolish behavior

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