li·​bi·​do | \lə-ˈbē-(ˌ)dō also ˈli-bə-ˌdō \
plural libidos

Definition of libido 

1 : instinctual psychic energy that in psychoanalytic theory is derived from primitive biological urges (as for sexual pleasure or self-preservation) and that is expressed in conscious activity

2 : sexual drive The drug was used to increase libido.

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Did You Know?

The Latin word libido, meaning "desire, lust", was borrowed by Sigmund Freud as the name for a concept in his own theories. At first he defined libido to mean the instinctual energy associated with the sex drive. Later he broadened the word's meaning and began using it to mean the mental energy behind purposeful human activity of any kind; in other words, the libido (for which Freud also used the term eros, a Greek word meaning "sexual love") came to be regarded as the life instinct, which included sex along with all the other impulses we rely on to keep us alive. But those of us who aren't psychologists use the word simply as a synonym for "sex drive".

Examples of libido in a Sentence

Lack of libido may be a sign of depression.

Recent Examples on the Web

Your libido will be working overtime under the Libra sky. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What September's Pisces Horoscope Means for You," 30 Aug. 2018 And, as Sebastian points out, being pregnant increases your libido. Melissa Petro, Marie Claire, "Why I Support the Choice to Be Pregnant and a Prostitute," 23 Apr. 2017 Exercise can increase your libido quicker than almost anything else, according to recent research. Karla Walsh, Redbook, "10 Things You Really Need to Know Before Trying to Lose Weight," 5 Jan. 2016 Very low levels, on the other hand, may lead to loss of libido and erectile dysfunction in men. Fiza Pirani, ajc, "Men’s testosterone levels influenced by where they grow up, study suggests," 26 June 2018 By 1985, in one of the crueler ironies of the century, gay men had learned that the liberation of the libido, the casting-off of eons-old shame, had exposed them to an implacable, hitherto unknown virus. Michael Cunningham, New York Times, "Surviving AIDS, but at What Cost?," 25 June 2018 As Paskin writes: Roth, of course, is a great, complicated novelist, a post-war titan who did not or could not always see female characters outside of context of the male libido. Anna Silman, The Cut, "Here’s How People Are Remembering Philip Roth," 23 May 2018 The mere scent or sound of humans can lower libido, dissuade predators from pursuing prey or interfere with critical communication. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "How Humans Created the Ultimate Superpests," 9 July 2018 Bluntly speaking, Mars retrograde means a lack of energy, low libido, disinterest in hitting the gym, and a general lethargy. Sophie Saint Thomas, Allure, "How Mars Retrograde Will Affect Your Love Life and Career This Summer," 2 July 2018

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

1909, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for libido

New Latin libidin-, libido, from Latin, desire, lust, from libēre to please — more at love

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Statistics for libido

Last Updated

22 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for libido

The first known use of libido was in 1909

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English Language Learners Definition of libido

: a person's desire to have sex


li·​bi·​do | \lə-ˈbēd-(ˌ)ō also ˈlib-ə-ˌdō or lə-ˈbī-(ˌ)dō\
plural libidos

Medical Definition of libido 

1 : instinctual psychic energy that in psychoanalytic theory is derived from primitive biological urges (as for sexual pleasure or self-preservation) and that is expressed in conscious activity

2 : sexual drive

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on libido

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with libido

Spanish Central: Translation of libido

Nglish: Translation of libido for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about libido

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