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

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

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 Viola’s an easy sell—a badass, successful lesbian who projects confidence, but is also dealing (or not dealing) with her own destructive compulsions. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "'The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls' Is a Stunning Debut From Anissa Gray," 1 Apr. 2019 But Xirgu, a Catalan actress and director who was also a lesbian and a political radical, was known for her willingness to take risks. New York Times, "Overlooked No More: Margarita Xirgu, Theater Radical Who Staged Lorca’s Plays," 29 May 2018 Attorney General William Barr has asked the federal Bureau of Prisons and the FBI to investigate allegations of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Justice Department employees in their ranks. Sadie Gurman, WSJ, "Attorney General Barr Orders LGBT Bias Probe Within Justice Department," 5 Apr. 2019 Franco, who was black and a lesbian, crusaded for black and gay causes. Sergio Ramalho, The Seattle Times, "Sister of slain Brazilian councilwoman calls for justice," 14 Jan. 2019 Often, straight actors still end up getting cast for lesbian, gay, or bisexual roles, and many trans characters are continually played by cisgender performers. Matt Wille, Teen Vogue, "11 LGBTQ Actors You Should Know About," 18 Oct. 2018 The Favourite relishes the shock value of its royal lesbian love triangle, but viewers really shouldn't be surprised. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Beyond The Favourite: The Royal Family's Very Queer History," 22 Feb. 2019 In Ireland, at least at the time, being a feminist, pro-choice, lesbian really did not win you a lot of friends. Ailbhe Smyth, The Cut, "What It’s Like to Be an Abortion-Rights Activist in Ireland," 21 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Some of them describe welcoming the news when their daughters came out as lesbians. Abigail Shrier, WSJ, "When Your Daughter Defies Biology," 6 Jan. 2019 Gays and lesbians fear evangelical social conservatism. Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, "Brazil Is Moving Its Embassy to Jerusalem," 5 Nov. 2018 Asian Americans, Jewish Americans, and lesbians have discovered discriminatory comments left on receipts too. Nadra Nittle, Vox, "Racial slurs and fat-shaming insults keep popping up on receipts. Is Trump worsening the trend?," 29 Oct. 2018 Some people think that Rose should make way for other people who look like her to join the ranks of major TV shows and movie casts: Imagine the hubbub when Hollywood discovers there are two, even three more lesbians other than Ruby Rose. Megan Lasher, Seventeen, "Ruby Rose Will Play The First Ever Lesbian "Batwoman" and People Have FEELINGS," 8 Aug. 2018 An article by a Malaysian newspaper on how to identify lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people has sparked outrage on social media, as the country grapples with the growing influence of religious hardliners. NBC News, "Malaysian newspaper's how-to-spot-a-gay checklist sparks outrage," 13 Feb. 2018 But Combs was a leading opponent of the vote last February by the Jackson City Council to enact a banning discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals. Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press, "Appointee to Civil Rights Commission unapologetic, says gays aren't disadvantaged," 4 Feb. 2018 The Connecticut Department of Children and Families’ new outreach campaign is one of a handful of efforts by state and city governments across the U.S. to encourage gays and lesbians to consider becoming adoptive or foster parents. NBC News, "Connecticut recruiting LGBTQ families to adopt, foster kids," 18 May 2018 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

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 1


1732, in the meaning defined above

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Les Cayes

Statistics for lesbian

Last Updated

15 May 2019

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Time Traveler for lesbian

The first known use of lesbian was in 1559

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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 or relating to homosexuality between females



Medical Definition of lesbian (Entry 2 of 2)

: a female homosexual

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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).


a strong desire or propensity

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