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sap·​phic ˈsa-fik How to pronounce sapphic (audio)
capitalized : of or relating to the Greek lyric poet Sappho
: of, relating to, or consisting of a 4-line strophe made up of chiefly trochaic and dactylic feet


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: a verse having the metrical pattern of one of the first three lines of a sapphic strophe
: a sapphic strophe

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Sapphic and Greek Poet Sappho

The poet Sappho wrote poems of self-reflection but also of passion, some of it directed to the women attending the school she conducted on the Greek island of Lesbos around 600 B.C. Even though most of the poems survive only as fragments, they have been greatly admired for many centuries. They were written in an original rhythmical pattern, which has become known as sapphic verse. Later admirers, such as the Roman poets Catullus and Horace, honored her by adopting the sapphic meter for their own poetry. Because of Sappho, the island of Lesbos also gave its name to lesbianism, which writers often used to call sapphic love.

Examples of sapphic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Well, that feels like a gift from the sapphic gods. Abby Monteil, Them, 8 July 2024 That’s why highly-visible events like Petra’s sapphic nights and drag shows are essential for Charlotte’s culture at large. Kayleigh Ruller, Charlotte Observer, 28 June 2024 That’s why this month’s Them playlist is dedicated to highlighting sapphic artists — broadly defined — of color, with the full acknowledgment that the umbrella term is an imperfect encapsulation of the many nuances of their identities. James Factora, Them, 24 June 2024 Meagan Good and Sara Foster, who starred together in 2004’s D.E.B.S., reunited Saturday night with writer and director Angela Robinson to celebrate the sapphic cult classic’s 20th anniversary with a Cinespia screening at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, in partnership with LA Pride. Glenn Garner, Deadline, 23 June 2024 The thing is, the way Dolly sings about the other woman in this song has always felt super sapphic. Rebecca Alter, Vulture, 29 Mar. 2024 Television wasn’t always so sapphic, which is why Showtime’s pioneering series about a group of West Hollywood lesbians and bisexual women is worth revisiting. Erik Piepenburg, Los Angeles Times, 3 June 2024 Although Deneuve had delivered several iconic sapphic performances, Stevens insisted the magazine was not named after her. Lindsay Lee Wallace, TIME, 23 Apr. 2024 The 1920s painter who hid sapphic symbols in her portraits This new, electrifying sartorial landscape brought with it a widespread preoccupation with clothes that not only influenced Sargeants’ artistic eye, but his clients’ desires too. Leah Dolan, CNN, 1 Mar. 2024
And because sapphics in Sofia only have two days of dedicated space per week, things are known to get pretty wild. Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner, Condé Nast Traveler, 31 May 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sapphic.' 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


1501, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of sapphic was in 1501

Dictionary Entries Near sapphic

Cite this Entry

“Sapphic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jul. 2024.

Medical Definition


adjective or noun
sap·​phic ˈsaf-ik How to pronounce sapphic (audio)
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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