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

Examples of heterosexual in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective In 2017, one survey found that 12% of millennials identify as something other than cisgender and 16% identify as something other than strictly heterosexual. Time, "What Does 'Pansexual' Mean? Behind the Rise of the Word," 7 Jan. 2020 In a subsequent trial of the shooter's wife, details emerged showing that the gay club Pulse was chosen randomly after heterosexual clubs appeared to be too securely guarded. Tim Fitzsimons, NBC News, "A very LGBTQ decade: Gay marriage, trans rights and a 'rainbow wave'," 29 Dec. 2019 That commercial showcased testimonials from several heterosexual newlyweds and one gay couple talking about their positive experiences using Zola. Chauncey Alcorn, CNN, "How gay couples in TV commercials became a mainstream phenomenon," 20 Dec. 2019 The sample included 101 couples (93 heterosexual, 7 lesbian and 1 gay) that had been married for less than three months. David Z. Hambrick, Scientific American, "How Research on Working Memory Can Improve Your Romantic Relationship," 5 Nov. 2019 David Page, Fitzgerald's lawyer, is making a case that his client was treated differently than heterosexual employees who violate Catholic church teachings in other ways, according to court documents. Arika Herron, Indianapolis Star, "Shelly Fitzgerald, first gay guidance counselor suspended by Roncalli, files federal suit," 19 Aug. 2019 Hallmark approved a commercial where a heterosexual couple kissed. Rosy Cordero, EW.com, "Netflix, GLAAD, and stars react to lesbian wedding ad being pulledl from Hallmark channel," 15 Dec. 2019 Hallmark approved a commercial where a heterosexual couple kissed. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "People Are Boycotting the Hallmark Channel For Pulling a Commercial Featuring a Lesbian Couple," 15 Dec. 2019 As heterosexual women age, therefore, the pool of possible partners shrinks. Los Angeles Times, "Divorce destroys finances of Americans over 50, studies show," 19 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 Heteropatriarchy — a system of society in which men and heterosexuals (especially heterosexual men) are privileged, dominant and hold power. Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times, "Cisheteropatriarchy. Hxrstory. The language of ethnic studies, explained," 13 Aug. 2019 In some cases, proceeds are going to organizations helping LGBTQ youths and others fighting for the rights of non-heterosexuals. Washington Post, "A retail rainbow: Vendors mark LGBTQ Pride on sales racks," 23 June 2019 White, male heterosexuals experience disappointment also. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Your Say: Racism in America," 26 July 2019 The court ruled that the police had been right to do so, and that the right to privacy was reserved for heterosexuals. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "Coming Out, and Rising Up, in the Fifty Years After Stonewall," 28 June 2019 The story takes places in an alternate reality where heterosexuals are an oppressed minority and follows a girl bullied for being straight, culminating with her suicide. Alex Horton, Washington Post, "It started as trolling, but a ‘straight pride parade’ may actually be coming to Boston," 28 June 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

18 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Heterosexual.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heterosexual. Accessed 21 January 2020.

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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 a tendency to direct sexual desire toward individuals of the opposite sex — compare homosexual entry 1 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 entry 1 sense 2
2 : of or relating to different sexes

Other Words from heterosexual

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


good-natured easy friendliness

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