sap·​phic | \ ˈsa-fik How to pronounce sapphic (audio) \

Definition of sapphic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 capitalized : of or relating to the Greek lyric poet Sappho
2 : of, relating to, or consisting of a 4-line strophe made up of chiefly trochaic and dactylic feet



Definition of sapphic (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a verse having the metrical pattern of one of the first three lines of a sapphic strophe
2 : 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: Adjective There is, as plenty of scholars have detailed, a latent sapphic energy between Mrs. Danvers and the late Rebecca. Rachel Syme, The New Yorker, "All the Wrong Reasons to Remake “Rebecca”," 24 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sapphic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of sapphic


1501, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for sapphic

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The first known use of sapphic was in 1501

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Cite this Entry

“Sapphic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for sapphic


How to pronounce sapphic (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sapphic

formal + literary : of or relating to sexual relations between women


adjective or noun
sap·​phic | \ ˈsaf-ik How to pronounce sapphic (audio) \

Medical Definition of sapphic

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