li·​on ˈlī-ən How to pronounce lion (audio)
plural lions
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
: any of several large wildcats
especially : cougar sense 1
capitalized : leo
: a person felt to resemble a lion (as in courage or ferocity)
: a person of outstanding interest or importance
a literary lion
capitalized [Lions (club)] : a member of a major national and international service club
lionlike adjective

Example Sentences

the roar of the lion He was a literary lion among the writers of his time.
Recent Examples on the Web And since unlike in China consumption forms the lion’s share of the U.S. economy in normal times, the growth push from running down those extra household savings was also enormous. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, 20 Jan. 2023 While small retail shops and struggling businesses operate under limited liability companies that qualify for the pass-through entity tax, the lion’s share of the money is paid by wealthy small business owners. Christopher Keating, Hartford Courant, 18 Jan. 2023 Otton will certainly get the lion’s share of those targets. Tanner Mcgrath, Chicago Tribune, 16 Jan. 2023 How employers can support ‘kinkeepers’ Sadly but unsurprisingly, taking on the lion’s share of household responsibilities has a huge impact on women’s abilities to excel and progress in their actual job. Orianna Rosa Royle, Fortune, 6 Jan. 2023 Moms tend to do the lion’s share of child care, but some male members of the US House of Representatives are pulling their weight this week as the chaotic vote for House Speaker has dragged for days. Kelsey Butler,, 6 Jan. 2023 But on and after that date, a close contest turned into a rout when Trump won winner-take-all Florida, Arizona, Delaware, Maryland and Indiana – as well as the lion’s share of delegates in winner-take-most New York, Illinois and Connecticut. Paul E. Peterson, CNN, 5 Jan. 2023 The California coast and most of the Sierra Nevada will host the lion’s share of these impacts as Wednesday’s cyclone approaches the West Coast. Gerry Díaz, San Francisco Chronicle, 3 Jan. 2023 While Michigan – which boasts the largest alumni base of any university -- predictably had the lion’s share of the crowd, TCU showed up as well. Dallas News, 31 Dec. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near lion

Cite this Entry

“Lion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


li·​on ˈlī-ən How to pronounce lion (audio)
plural lion or lions
: a large flesh-eating mammal of the cat family that has a brownish buff coat, a tufted tail, and in the male a shaggy mane and that lives in open or rocky areas of Africa and formerly southern Asia
lionlike adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on lion

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