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

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 From daunting media depictions of sapphic heartbreak through to familial and societal homophobia, there are lots of reasons why lesbian breakups can be particularly difficult or isolating. Amelia Abraham,, 15 Dec. 2021 Wonder Woman’s new sapphic romance is part of an explosion of LGBTQ representation among comic books characters over the past several years — both on the page and the screen. NBC News, 10 Dec. 2021 North puts a feminist twist on the Western in this alt-history about an on-the-run midwife who falls in with the Hole in the Wall Gang, a sapphic iteration of the Jesse James gang. Washington Post, 18 Nov. 2021 And the associations between sapphic love and bloodthirsty villains stuck. NBC News, 30 Oct. 2021 The concluding film goes back to colonial New England in order to show the origins of the witch wreaking havoc for generations of Shadysiders, revealed to be an innocent girl persecuted for her sapphic desires. Charles Bramesco, Vulture, 16 July 2021 Unlike most of the movies on this list, the plot of Booksmart doesn’t focus on the WLW character’s journey to accept her sapphic nature. Rebecca Caplan, Vulture, 25 June 2021 Set at a vaguely sapphic sleepover, Eilish sings about moving on from an ex who, frankly, sounds like a scrub. Zoe Haylock, Vulture, 2 June 2021 There is, as plenty of scholars have detailed, a latent sapphic energy between Mrs. Danvers and the late Rebecca. Rachel Syme, The New Yorker, 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.

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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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The first known use of sapphic was in 1501

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Last Updated

27 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sapphic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for sapphic



English Language Learners Definition of sapphic

: of or relating to sexual relations between women : lesbian


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

Medical Definition of sapphic


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