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

transitive verb

: to treat as an object of great interest or importance
lionization noun
lionizer noun

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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 Growing up in the South Side neighborhood of Roseland, Mr. Roberts listened to radio broadcasts of his beloved Chicago Cubs and lionized NBC sportscaster Bill Stern. Harrison Smith, Washington Post, 31 Aug. 2023 The GOP as a whole has gone to great lengths to lionize the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on January 6 and turn Ashli Babbitt into their own Horst Wessel. Brynn Tannehill, The New Republic, 31 Aug. 2023 It’s widely believed that his rise was enabled by elements of the military, which Khan lionized while denouncing the venality and decadence of the country’s entrenched civilian political elites. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 8 Aug. 2023 Later, when Oppenheimer addresses his Los Alamos team on Aug. 6, 1945, Nolan stages a magical-realist breakdown wherein the man who would be lionized for ending the war becomes overtaken by horror and grief. Ann Hornaday, Anchorage Daily News, 20 July 2023 Mark and Patricia McCloskey were lionized by both conservative media and the Republican establishment for threatening protesters with guns at their St. Louis home. Brynn Tannehill, The New Republic, 8 May 2023 Instead, the party negotiations only served to give more and more power to the Trumpian Id of a party that once accepted if not lionized the likes of the Bush dynasty, former union boss Ronald Reagan, and one-time Planned Parenthood-World Population chairman Ike Eisenhower. Philip Elliott, Time, 10 July 2023 Remember how they were lionized at the 2020 GOP convention as heroes? Brynn Tannehill, The New Republic, 8 May 2023 Since 2015, Stalin has been lionized on national holidays, and discussion of his repression has largely been stifled. Andrei Kolesnikov, Foreign Affairs, 8 Nov. 2022 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1809, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of lionize was in 1809

Dictionary Entries Near lionize

Cite this Entry

“Lionize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2023.

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