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

Lemon spoke of his courageous decision to come out in a business largely dominated by Caucasian and heterosexual people. Ian Malone, Vogue, "Lena Waithe and Don Lemon Are Honored at the Center’s Annual Dinner," 19 Apr. 2019 Amy Jacobs, a lesbian student, said the rules should be the same for gay and heterosexual couples, who are allowed to hold hands and kiss. Brady Mccombs, The Seattle Times, "Students at Mormon-owned BYU urge honor code compassion," 12 Apr. 2019 However, like many of the other studies on this topic, the participants were primarily white and heterosexual. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "How Does Cannabis Actually Affect Sex?," 25 Mar. 2019 According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth are almost five times more likely to have attempted suicide than heterosexual youth. Beth Dreher, Woman's Day, "Meet the Woman Who Stands In at LGBTQ Weddings," 4 May 2019 According to a report from the Urban Institute, 43% of LGBT youth reported being victims of physical dating violence, compared to just 29% of heterosexual youth. Rory Gory, Teen Vogue, "How to Stop Teen Dating Violence," 16 Feb. 2018 This did not apply to heterosexual unmarried couples. Jen Kirby, Vox, "The US won’t give visas to same-sex partners of UN officials anymore," 2 Oct. 2018 Since women in heterosexual couples typically marry men two or three years older, that means married women leave the workforce at younger ages. Liz Weston, The Seattle Times, "How women who retire with their husbands often lose out," 17 Sep. 2018 The report found that LGBT seniors were three to four times less likely to have children than their heterosexual peers. Robert Weisman, BostonGlobe.com, "Gay boomers look ahead to an old age colored by uncertainty and the help of friends," 9 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

At the time, shows like Donahue and Oprah showed the vitriol that many heterosexuals aimed at gay people. S. D. Chrismon, The Root, "‘It Gets Better’: The Lie We Tell LGBTQ Youths," 15 June 2018 The eight new infections, all diagnosed since February, involve individuals described to be heterosexuals, drug users and recently homeless, The Seattle Times reported. Alexandria Hein, Fox News, "Cluster of HIV cases in North Seattle prompt concern of potential outbreak," 31 Aug. 2018 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

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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Statistics for heterosexual

Last Updated

7 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 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

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Spanish Central: Translation of heterosexual

Nglish: Translation of heterosexual for Spanish Speakers

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