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 lion (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 The lion’s share of that increase comes from federal relief. oregonlive, "Portland Public Schools’ $762 million spending plan won’t guarantee full-day in-person class if COVID restrictions remain," 8 May 2021 At its peak, almost $450 billion was swapped, the lion’s share to banks in Japan and the eurozone. Mike Bird, WSJ, "Saying Au Revoir to the Most Successful Policy in Federal Reserve History," 27 Apr. 2021 Like the Assyrian palace reliefs of charioteers or banqueters, a colorful glazed relief of a striding lion taken from the brick walls of Babylon’s main street embeds an image of power in the very stuff of the city’s construction. Los Angeles Times, "Review: Getty Villa reopens with ancient treasures from the Louvre," 21 Apr. 2021 This assessment was so incongruous with logic that prosecutor Steve Schleicher launched into his cross-examination with the slow, methodical patience of a lion stalking a lame antelope. Washington Post, "The objective reasonableness of fear," 13 Apr. 2021 The Sirens are half bird, half woman; Scylla’s lower half is a mass of snarling dogs; the Sphinx has the body of a lion and the wings of a bird. Barbara Spindel, The Christian Science Monitor, "Harpies, sirens, and other ‘nasty’ women: Going beneath misogyny.," 5 Apr. 2021 As an example, in the first film, the character of King Joffe, played by James Earl Jones, enters a barbershop wearing the taxidermied head of a lion draped across his chest. Nadia Neophytou, Quartz, "Eddie Murphy is “Coming 2 America” in some standout African designs," 5 Mar. 2021 Davis is more sphinx than unicorn: body of a lion, wings of an eagle, head of a mysterious human being. Louisa Thomas, The New Yorker, "Pondering Anthony Davis, the Lakers’ Oddly Enigmatic Star," 7 Oct. 2020 For the brand’s Mushroom Cocoa powder ($38), a scoop of which can be added to your morning coffee, fruiting bodies of lion’s mane and other varieties are extracted via a long-simmer method and flavored with vanilla and mesquite. New York Times, "Are Mushrooms the Future of Wellness?," 18 Sep. 2020

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

11 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Lion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for lion



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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