les·​bi·​an | \ ˈlez-bē-ən How to pronounce lesbian (audio) \

Definition of lesbian

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 [from association with the ardent poetry written by Sappho of Lesbos (c. 610-c. 580 b.c.) to and about other women in the female religious and educational community she led] : of, relating to, or characterized by sexual or romantic attraction to other women or between women gay and lesbian veterans a lesbian relationship
2 Lesbian : of or relating to Lesbos


plural lesbians

Definition of lesbian (Entry 2 of 2)

: a woman who is sexually or romantically attracted to other women : a gay woman lesbians and gay men

Examples of lesbian in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Taylor-Klaus believes the industry must also give a platform to nonbinary and other lesbian, gay and trans creators. Tre’vell Anderson Los Angeles Times, Star Tribune, "Nonbinary characters had a landmark year on TV," 18 Dec. 2020 The actress-filmmaker has revealed she's thought about a sequel to her new lesbian rom-com that caused a festive stir online following its Nov. 25 Hulu debut. Joey Nolfi, EW.com, "Clea DuVall has 'a couple of ideas' for a Happiest Season sequel," 2 Dec. 2020 Adoption by gay and lesbian couples was possible until now if one partner applied as a single person. NBC News, "Hungary amends constitution to redefine family, effectively banning gay adoption," 15 Dec. 2020 Last year, a Christmas ad featuring a lesbian couple was pulled by Hallmark, a giant in the holiday movie game. Giulia Heyward And Melissa Gray, CNN, "It's a record year for LGBTQ representation in holiday movies," 5 Dec. 2020 Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis play a lesbian couple heading to Davis’ family home for the holidays, with Victor Garber and Mary Steenburgen as her rigid and demanding parents. Rochelle O'gorman, The Christian Science Monitor, "Holiday TV shows bring the comfy and cozy – and better reflect society," 4 Dec. 2020 In 2013, when the School Board considered updating its anti-bullying policy to include protections for gay and lesbian students, Ellison moved to strike the protective language from the policy, The Times-Picayune reported. Kaylee Poche, NOLA.com, "Democratic donors split over anti-LGBT school board member Leslie Ellison in Orleans Parish race," 24 Nov. 2020 In Texas, Gina Ortiz Jones, a Democratic former Air Force intelligence officer who is lesbian, had been seen as having a strong chance of winning in a sprawling, 800-mile congressional district that runs from San Antonio to El Paso. Arkansas Online, "In blue and red states, milestone wins for LGBTQ candidates," 4 Nov. 2020 The pair cannot get to know each other in a restaurant or a bar, for to be lesbian in Nigeria is to remain hidden. The Economist, "Juliet and Juliet “Ife” tells a story of forbidden love in Nigeria," 28 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun One of those was Ms. Carlile’s, the folk and Americana singer-songwriter who credits Ms. Houston with giving her music its first airplay as well as the confidence to talk publicly about being a lesbian. Richard Sandomir, New York Times, "Rita Houston, WFUV D.J. Who Lifted Music Careers, Dies at 59," 30 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 As a Black lesbian, federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot scores some intersectional firsts in Chicago history. Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘City So Real’ beautifully lays out a Chicago mayoral race and its aftermath," 31 Oct. 2020 For Wiskowski, who now identifies as a lesbian, that revelation wasn’t only personal. NBC News, "'We as society still have a lot of work to do': Reflecting on the 10th anniversary of the 'DADT' repeal," 15 Dec. 2020 Anja Pärson, a former Alpine skier from Sweden, came out as lesbian in 2012. New York Times, "Ski Champion Comes Out as Gay: ‘I’m Ready to Be Happy’," 13 Dec. 2020 The book also represents Henriette Pimentel, the nursery’s director and a key player in the rescue operation, as a lesbian, though there is no factual basis for this. Cnaan Liphshiz, sun-sentinel.com, "Historical novel on Holland’s largest Holocaust rescue operation slammed for ‘awful’ errors," 9 Dec. 2020 The biggest and happiest story of the day, though, has to be Orange County’s own Braunwyn Windham-Burke coming out as a lesbian. Mary Sollosi, EW.com, "The Real Housewives of Orange County," 3 Dec. 2020 But the Supreme Court ruled in June that a 1964 civil rights law against workplace discrimination applies to gay, lesbian and transgender workers and that decision has been cited by lower courts to extend those protections to transgender athletes. William Cummings, USA TODAY, "Tulsi Gabbard introduces bill that ties Title IX protections for female athletes to 'biological sex'," 12 Dec. 2020

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


1559, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1732, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for lesbian

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The first known use of lesbian was in 1559

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Statistics for lesbian

Last Updated

15 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Lesbian.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lesbian. Accessed 16 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for lesbian



English Language Learners Definition of lesbian

: a woman who is sexually attracted to other women : a female homosexual


les·​bi·​an | \ ˈlez-bē-ən How to pronounce lesbian (audio) \

Medical Definition of lesbian

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of, relating to, or characterized by sexual or romantic attraction to other women or between women gay and lesbian adults a lesbian relationship



Medical Definition of lesbian (Entry 2 of 2)

: a woman who is sexually or romantically attracted to other women : a gay woman

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More from Merriam-Webster on lesbian

Nglish: Translation of lesbian for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lesbian for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about lesbian

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