li·​on·​ize | \ ˈlī-ə-ˌnīz How to pronounce lionize (audio) \
lionized; lionizing

Definition of lionize

transitive verb

: to treat as an object of great interest or importance

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Other Words from lionize

lionization \ ˌlī-​ə-​nə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce lionize (audio) \ noun
lionizer \ ˈlī-​ə-​ˌnī-​zər How to pronounce lionize (audio) \ noun

Did You Know?

The lion is traditionally regarded as the king of beasts, and perhaps rightly so - the lion is brave, stately, and quite often ferocious. Those qualities that earn the lion respect from other creatures were probably in people's minds when, in the 18th century, lion came to be used for a person who is similarly well-regarded, especially after a long and distinguished career in a particular field. A veteran lawmaker might be considered one of the lions of the Senate; a literary lion has enjoyed a long career as a successful writer. This sense of lion forms the basis of lionize, which first appeared in English in the early 19th century.

Examples of lionize in a Sentence

She was lionized everywhere after her novel won the Pulitzer Prize.
Recent Examples on the Web Too many jazz greats: The pandemic was especially cruel to jazz, a music that tends to lionize its elders, who were particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Rick Kogan,, "Who and what we lost in 2020: From notable artists to Chicago experiences, they’re gone or changed but not forgotten," 11 Dec. 2020 Fictional portrayals of Abraham Lincoln tend to lionize the man. David L. Coddon, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Arts & Culture Newsletter: North Coast Rep streams ‘Necessary Sacrifices’," 17 Sep. 2020 The basketball press does not lionize Van Gundy, who, in addition to his repeated support of Black Lives Matter, recently argued for a $15 minimum wage. Jay Caspian Kang, The New York Review of Books, "Ball Don’t Lie," 27 Aug. 2020 Cox explains that in the decades after the Civil War, the goal of the Daughters of the Confederacy was not just to lionize parents and grandparents who fought, but also to reassert Confederate principles through those tributes. Wenei Philimon, USA TODAY, "Will the Black Lives Matter movement finally put an end to Confederate flags and statues?," 13 June 2020 Hegemonic representations of white violence in film spectacularize riots and lionize vigilante justice. Samantha N. Sheppard, The Atlantic, "The Films That Understand Why People Riot," 9 June 2020 Silicon Valley lionizes people who rush toward solutions and ignore problems; science is designed to find solutions by identifying those problems. Adam Rogers, Wired, "An Old Malaria Drug May Fight Covid-19—and Silicon Valley's Into It," 19 Mar. 2020 Duque, a 43-year-old former senator, was elected largely thanks to the support of former President Alvaro Uribe, who remains the country’s most-skilled politician though one lionized and despised in almost equal measure. Washington Post, "Colombia ambassador criticizes State Department in recording," 21 Nov. 2019 Kurzel acknowledges that those who lionize Kelly as a model of machismo will likely take issue with these playful, homoerotically charged elements of his film. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "‘True History of the Kelly Gang’ director, stars on their hypnotic outlaw saga," 23 Apr. 2020

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

1809, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for lionize

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The first known use of lionize was in 1809

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Last Updated

28 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Lionize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for lionize


How to pronounce lionize (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of lionize

: to treat (someone) as a very important and famous person

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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for lionize

Nglish: Translation of lionize for Spanish Speakers

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