li·​on | \ ˈlī-ən How to pronounce lion (audio) \
plural lions

Definition of lion

1a or plural lion : a large heavily built social cat (Panthera leo) of open or rocky areas chiefly of sub-Saharan Africa though once widely distributed throughout Africa and southern Asia that has a tawny body with a tufted tail and a shaggy blackish or dark brown mane in the male
b : any of several large wildcats especially : cougar sense 1
c capitalized : leo
2a : a person felt to resemble a lion (as in courage or ferocity)
b : a person of outstanding interest or importance a literary lion
3 capitalized [Lions (club)] : a member of a major national and international service club

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Other Words from lion

lionlike \ ˈlī-​ən-​ˌlīk How to pronounce lion (audio) \ adjective

Examples of lion in a Sentence

the roar of the lion He was a literary lion among the writers of his time.
Recent Examples on the Web Craig Saffoe, curator of the great cats at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, had warned his staff in advance that Shera, the African lion, might not pull through. Washington Post, 8 Oct. 2021 Spain’s royal lion and castle, for the kingdoms of Leon y Castilla. Los Angeles Times, 5 Oct. 2021 The lions still have access to their indoor and outdoor areas in the zoo, and their COVID-19 status poses no risk to the public because of the glass barrier and distance between the lion’s habitat area and visitors. Howard Koplowitz |, al, 1 Oct. 2021 The lion, however, did take a nap during the final weeks of August, and remained drowsy throughout most of September. Frederick Peters, Forbes, 1 Oct. 2021 In The Masked Singer season 6 preview episode, Bull acts erratic when they are introduced, and their first clue is a tiger and lion. Selena Barrientos, Good Housekeeping, 22 Sep. 2021 Another don’t-miss dish is the Cräb cake, made from fibrous lion’s mane mushrooms from Mindful Mushrooms in San Diego. San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 Sep. 2021 And that pet lion causes so much chaos in the prison that Le Mec's able to escape. Sara Netzley,, 10 Sep. 2021 There are creative rules designers have made for these problems: Humblewood makes any monstrous, less-sentient animals fantastical, like an elemental lion. Pearse Anderson, Wired, 9 Sep. 2021

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

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for lion

Middle English lioun, from Anglo-French leun, lion, from Latin leon-, leo, from Greek leōn

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Time Traveler for lion

Time Traveler

The first known use of lion was in the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near lion



lion's beard

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Statistics for lion

Last Updated

14 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Lion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for lion



English Language Learners Definition of lion

: a large wild cat that has golden brown fur and that lives mainly in Africa
: a very important, powerful, or successful person


li·​on | \ ˈlī-ən How to pronounce lion (audio) \

Kids Definition of lion

: a large meat-eating animal of the cat family that has a brownish buff coat, a tufted tail, and in the male a shaggy mane and that lives in Africa and southern Asia

More from Merriam-Webster on lion

Nglish: Translation of lion for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lion for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about lion


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