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

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 Associated Press journalists flying over the stunning migration of thousands of antelope last week saw few giraffes and no elephants, lions, or cheetahs. Sam Mednick, The Christian Science Monitor, 28 June 2024 Richard Gadd is swapping deer for lions — and Netflix for HBO — with his latest series deal. Samantha Bergeson, IndieWire, 27 June 2024 The Past Found: One of the earliest signs of ancient human cannibalism A 1.5-million-year-old hominin bone shows signs that the victim was eaten by lions — and humans. Big Think, 24 June 2024 The faux taxidermy lion’s head prowling across Jenner’s dress was, at the time, thought to be a) real, b) a blatant endorsement of trophy hunting, and c) grossly insensitive to just about anyone who cares remotely about animal cruelty. Alice Newbold, Vogue, 24 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for lion 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'lion.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 14 Jul. 2024.

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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