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 lionlike (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 Your Instagram photo of the day Recording a lost world: The 36,000-year-old paintings in France's Chauvet Cave, remarkably preserved, tell stories of when lions, aurochs, bison, and rhinoceroses all lived in Europe. National Geographic, "How can small clues further big discoveries?," 30 Dec. 2019 Open year-round, the zoo is home to primates, lions, tigers, zebras, bears, and more, and is a nice place to linger while also exploring the surrounding 1,326 acres. Melissa Kravitz, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why St. Louis Needs to Be Your Next Weekend Getaway," 19 Dec. 2019 But Hoosier animal lovers looking to get wild this winter have plenty of opportunities to bundle up and get up close to lions, tigers and bears around the state. Justin L. Mack, Indianapolis Star, "6 places in Indiana to hang out with wild animals this winter break," 17 Dec. 2019 The longtime former sanctuary for lions, Bengal tigers, chimpanzees and other exotic animals is in the Angeles National Forest near Sylmar. Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: What a Bay Area baby rave tells us about the pressures of millennial parenting," 17 Oct. 2019 The Cleveland Jewish News pursued the story after a woman noticed the logo, which includes a circle and the MGM lion, at MGM Northfield Park outside Cleveland., "ICYMI: Suit over Facebook settlement; worker group sues American Airlines," 26 July 2019 The fathiers combined the majestic quality of stallions with the warmth of lions, resulting in a giant animal that was based on horses but used cat-like anatomy and movement. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "The science of Star Wars: How filmmakers made alien creatures believable," 19 Dec. 2019 People simply did not want to hear human voices coming out of the mouths of Planet Earth lions, which is very understandable. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "What to Watch (and Skip) In Theaters and on Netflix This Weekend," 18 Dec. 2019 Not to mention a fleet of seal lions and a mama otter cuddling with a baby otter. Mehera Bonner, Marie Claire, "The 'Big Little Lies' Guide to Monterey, California," 10 Dec. 2018

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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Statistics for lion

Last Updated

15 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Lion.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 25 January 2020.

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More Definitions for lion


How to pronounce lion (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on lion

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for lion

Spanish Central: Translation of lion

Nglish: Translation of lion for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on lion

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


dull or mediocre

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