les·bi·an | \ ˈlez-bē-ən \

Definition of lesbian 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 often capitalized : of or relating to Lesbos

2 [ from the reputed homosexual band associated with Sappho of Lesbos ] : of or relating to homosexuality between females



Definition of lesbian (Entry 2 of 2)

: a woman who is a homosexual

Examples of lesbian in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Indie rock singer-songwriter Beth Ditto has made a name for herself as an outspoken feminist lesbian. Stephen Daw, Billboard, "Beth Ditto Responds to London Pride TERF Controversy With Inspiring Instagram Post: 'We Keep Trying'," 13 July 2018 An echo of the Warren Court’s legacy lived on until the present day on the legally narrow but politically and culturally salient question of gay and lesbian Americans’ rights to live free and equal lives as citizens. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Brett Kavanaugh and the new judicial activism," 12 July 2018 Then, a little more than a year ago, while looking for new @h_e_r_s_t_o_r_y content, Rakowski found an online archive of personal ads from On Our Backs, a lesbian erotica magazine that ran from the 1980s to the mid-2000s. Angela Watercutter, WIRED, "Could a Text-Based Dating App Change Selfie-Swiping Culture?," 10 July 2018 Your lesbian aunt’s favorite band, the Indigo Girls, was there. Zoë Madonna, BostonGlobe.com, "With big assists from Moreno and Giddens, the Pops envisions a welcoming America," 5 July 2018 The second season, however, provided Flahive and Mensch with the opportunity to further explore the ensemble, which grew to 15 women with the introduction of lesbian character Yolanda (Shakira Barrera). Jackie Strause, The Hollywood Reporter, "'GLOW' Bosses on "Uncomfortable" Finale and (Likely) Season 3," 4 July 2018 Desert Hearts is widely considered the first film with a lesbian story line where the women end up together. Jill Gutowitz, Teen Vogue, "The 25 Best LGBTQ Movies to Watch," 28 June 2018 Jasmine Burnett is a black lesbian feminist, anti-oppression consultant and writer based in Cleveland. Jasmine Burnett, The Root, "A (Midwestern) Black Lesbian’s Reflections on 20 Years of Being ‘Family’," 28 June 2018 And there’s not much more to a new wrestler, Shakira Barrera’s Yo-Yo, than her identity as a Mexican-American lesbian stripper. Judy Berman, Time, "Glow Fades But Stays Fun in Its Second Season," 21 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Among the 2017 films that include LGBTQ characters, gay men were most present (64%) followed by lesbians (36%) and bisexuals (14%). Tre'vell Anderson, latimes.com, "GLAAD's report on LGBTQ representation in 2017 films finds inclusion trending down," 22 May 2018 In this climate of hatred toward anyone who does not fit our version of the norm, gays, lesbians, transgender persons and others have been swept up in the storm of intolerance that is pounding down on our country. Dahleen Glanton, chicagotribune.com, "Intolerance toward gays has softened, but it persists," 14 May 2018 Only 19 states — mostly Democratic strongholds — offer comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for gays, lesbians and transgender people. David Crary, chicagotribune.com, "Bills to curtail LGBT rights are failing in state legislatures," 17 Apr. 2018 Only 19 states — mostly Democratic strongholds — offer comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for gays, lesbians and transgender people. David Crary, Fox News, "Bills to curtail LGBT rights are failing in US legislatures," 17 Apr. 2018 The Nazis attempted to exterminate all Jews, but also murdered gays and lesbians, as well as other minorities. Kevin D. Mcgee | Opinion, Anchorage Daily News, "Point-Counterpoint: Protect transgender people from bigotry; vote no on Proposition 1," 8 Feb. 2018 Thousands of suspected gays and lesbians lost their jobs. Time Staff, Time, "The 25 Moments From American History That Matter Right Now," 28 June 2018 His decision also put a new cloud of uncertainty over legal protections for racial minorities, gays and lesbians. Bob Egelko, SFChronicle.com, "Kennedy’s departure opens questions about the future of abortion rights," 27 June 2018 The six most frequently targeted groups in 2016, according to the FBI, were African-Americans; lesbians, gays and bisexuals; whites; Jews; Latinos; and Muslims. Brian Levin, James J. Nolan, CBS News, "New data shows US hate crimes continued to rise in 2017," 26 June 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of lesbian


1567, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1890, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about lesbian

Dictionary Entries near lesbian







Les Cayes

Statistics for lesbian

Last Updated

18 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for lesbian

The first known use of lesbian was in 1567

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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 \

Medical Definition of lesbian 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: of or relating to homosexuality between females



Medical Definition of lesbian (Entry 2 of 2)

: a female homosexual

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on lesbian

Spanish Central: Translation of lesbian

Nglish: Translation of lesbian for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lesbian for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about lesbian

Comments on lesbian

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


the setting in which something occurs

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!