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

Definition of heterosexual

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of, relating to, or characterized by sexual or romantic attraction to or between people of the opposite sex heterosexual men/women a heterosexual couple
b : of, relating to, or involving sexual activity between individuals of the opposite sex
2 : of or relating to different sexes


plural heterosexuals

Definition of heterosexual (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who is sexually or romantically attracted to people of the opposite sex : a heterosexual person

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Other Words from heterosexual


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

Examples of heterosexual in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Apted, who died Thursday at 79 in Los Angeles (no cause of death was reported by his agent), was one of the few heterosexual men in his industry who were genuinely interested in women’s stories, directing several of them with great success. Kyle Smith, National Review, "Farewell to a Non-Visionary Filmmaker," 11 Jan. 2021 About 20 percent of sperm bank clients are heterosexual couples, 60 percent are gay women, and 20 percent are single moms by choice, the banks said. New York Times, "The Sperm Kings Have a Problem: Too Much Demand," 8 Jan. 2021 Many women in heterosexual couples picked the latter. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, "Pandemic Year Two," 29 Dec. 2020 Female victims should fit a paradigm of innocence: a petite, heterosexual white woman with a clean record. Justine Van Der Leun, The New Republic, "“No Choice but to Do It”: Why Women Go to Prison," 17 Dec. 2020 But lesbians and single people also run afoul of insurance mandates centered on heterosexual couples. NBC News, "Gay couples face added hurdle when trying to start a family: Insurance policies," 17 Dec. 2020 That data shows that heterosexual people made up 55% of San Francisco cases, compared with 3% who were gay or lesbian and less than 1% who were bisexual. Dustin Gardiner, SFChronicle.com, "California said it would track COVID in LGBTQ community. It largely hasn’t," 9 Dec. 2020 Young African American gay and bisexual men account for more new HIV infections than any other group, and HIV affects African American heterosexual women more than women of any other race or ethnicity. Essence, "Black Celebs Who Have Died From AIDS," 1 Dec. 2020 Browning is, by all accounts, a white, heterosexual man. Britni De La Cretaz, refinery29.com, "From Burner Accounts To Patti LaBelle: What Is The Weirdest Part Of The Dean Browning Story?," 11 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun While Calvin Klein is known for pushing the envelope, people are accusing the brand of queerbaiting, since Bella identifies as heterosexual. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "A Complete Timeline of Bella Hadid and The Weeknd's Relationship," 31 Aug. 2020 Wilde wrote as a voice from Fullerton’s London years, and Fullerton in Paris had left all that behind to become an enthusiastic heterosexual. Colm Tóibín, The New York Review of Books, "Shadow Selves," 3 Aug. 2020 This is apparently one of the few ballet companies populated exclusively by heterosexuals, with the exception of Erik (Shakiem Evans), who seems to be the troupe's token gay man. Anne Cohen, refinery29.com, "Center Stage Is Still The Best Goddamn Ballet Movie Of Our Time," 24 Apr. 2020 But to Samson Racioppi and fellow organizers of a Straight Pride Parade on Saturday in Boston — an event expected to draw dozens of supporters and perhaps 800 counter-protesters — the real victims today are heterosexuals. Dan Adams, BostonGlobe.com, "Ignore the Straight Pride Parade or fight it? LGBTQ community divided over how to respond," 29 Aug. 2019 Underneath the heterosexuals were the tentative notices for young gay men and women. Douglas Stuart, The New Yorker, "Found Wanting," 6 Jan. 2020 In the post-Edwardian period, upper class men were more likely to already understand the world in terms of heterosexuals and homosexuals, with a bright and absolute line dividing the two. Hugh Ryan, Town & Country, "Downton Abbey's Thomas Barrow and the Future of the Gay Past," 16 Sep. 2019 The cluster bumped King County’s rate of HIV among homeless heterosexuals who inject drugs by 286%. oregonlive, "Homeless with HIV: A lack of housing makes a preventable disease deadly in Oregon," 10 Nov. 2019 Most of the people in power—the gatekeepers—are white male heterosexuals. Bon Appétit, "Ashtin Berry Takes a Hard Look at the Restaurant Industry—and How It Can Be Better," 4 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for heterosexual

Time Traveler

The first known use of heterosexual was in 1892

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Statistics for heterosexual

Last Updated

26 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Heterosexual.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heterosexual. Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for heterosexual


How to pronounce heterosexual (audio)

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 How to pronounce heterosexual (audio) \

Medical Definition of heterosexual

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of, relating to, or characterized by sexual or romantic attraction to or between individuals of the opposite sex
b : of, relating to, or involving sexual activity between individuals of the opposite sex sexual relationships between individuals of opposite sexes are heterosexual— A. C. Kinsey
2 : of or relating to different sexes

Other Words from heterosexual

heterosexually \ -​ˈseksh-​(ə-​)wə-​lē, -​ˈsek-​shə-​lē How to pronounce heterosexual (audio) \ adverb



Medical Definition of heterosexual (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who is sexually or romantically attracted to people of the opposite sex : a heterosexual individual

More from Merriam-Webster on heterosexual

Nglish: Translation of heterosexual for Spanish Speakers

Comments on heterosexual

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