le·​o·​nine | \ˈlē-ə-ˌnīn \

Definition of leonine 

: of, relating to, suggestive of, or resembling a lion

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Did You Know?

Leonine derives from Latin leo, meaning "lion," which in turn comes from Greek lēon. "Lēon" gave us an interesting range of words: "leopard" (which is "lēon" combined with "pardos," a Greek word for a panther-like animal); "dandelion" (which came by way of the Anglo-French phrase dent de lion - literally, "lion's tooth"); and "chameleon" (which uses the combining form from Greek that means "on the ground"); as well as the names "Leon" and "Leonard." But the dancer's and gymnast's leotard is not named for its wearer's cat-like movements. Rather, it was simply named after its inventor, Jules Leotard, a 19th-century French aerial gymnast.

Examples of leonine in a Sentence

a leonine mane of hair

Recent Examples on the Web

Both young and old, Douglass had magnificent, leonine looks. Mark Feeney, BostonGlobe.com, "The face of 19th-century America," 5 Apr. 2018 At the end of Donatella’s tribute the models created a tableau at the foot of the runway, posed like Greek statues in their chain mail dresses, leonine waves of hair cascading down their backs. Kate Betts, Town & Country, "Family Tragedy: Inside the Versace Drama," 31 Jan. 2018 An avid collector of leonine objects throughout her life, the designer scattered them throughout her apartment at 31 Rue Cambon. Vogue, "The Lion Queen: A First Look at Chanel’s New High Jewelry Collection," 23 Jan. 2018 Louis, a slight Frenchman with jawbone sideburns and a leonine head of curls, would stroll by, comb and scissors in hand, and admonish his glamorous clients to flip their heads over in front of the mirror and shake out their dazzling tresses. Kate Betts, Town & Country, "Supermodel Carolyn Murphy Redefines Her Role," 4 Apr. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'leonine.' 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 leonine

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for leonine

Middle English, from Latin leoninus, from leon-, leo

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The first known use of leonine was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of leonine

: of, relating to, or resembling a lion


le·​o·​nine | \ˈlē-ə-ˌnīn \

Medical Definition of leonine 

: of or relating to leprotic leontiasis

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


playful or foolish behavior

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