\ ˈspərm How to pronounce sperm (audio) \
plural sperm or sperms

Definition of sperm

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : semen
b : a male gamete especially : spermatozoon sense 1
2 : a product of the sperm whale
variants: or spermo- or sperma- or spermi-

Definition of sperm- (Entry 2 of 2)

: seed : germ : sperm spermatheca spermicide

Examples of sperm in a Sentence


The sperm fertilizes the egg.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Dear Amy: My mother conceived both my brother and me using a sperm donor. Ask Amy, oregonlive.com, "Ask Amy: DNA test could reveal a longstanding family secret about cousin’s biological father," 7 Aug. 2019 Through a quick series of only-in-a-telenovela events, Jane is accidentally inseminated with the sperm of Rafael Solano (Justin Baldoni), the handsome hotel mogul who was also Jane’s first crush. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Why ‘Jane the Virgin’ is the TV show you need right now," 5 Aug. 2019 According to the New York Times, Epstein hoped that multiple women would be inseminated with his sperm. Sharon Begley, STAT, "Citing ‘nerd tunnel vision,’ biologist George Church apologizes for contacts with Jeffrey Epstein," 5 Aug. 2019 The entire premise of the CW series, after all, was built upon Jane getting accidentally inseminated at a doctor’s appointment — with the sperm of her distracted gynecologist’s millionaire brother, no less. Sonia Rao, Washington Post, "‘Jane the Virgin’ got the heartfelt ending it deserved," 1 Aug. 2019 According to Lanier, the NASA scientist said Epstein had based his idea for a baby ranch on accounts of the Repository for Germinal Choice, which was to be stocked with the sperm of Nobel laureates who wanted to strengthen the human gene pool. Matthew Goldstein, BostonGlobe.com, "Jeffrey Epstein, surrounded by scientific luminaries, hoped to seed the human race with his DNA," 31 July 2019 Ship logs and sailors’ journals noted sperm, right, and humpback whales being killed for baleen—which functioned then in some ways like modern plastic—and blubber, which could be rendered into oil for lamps and industrial machinery. Steve Benjamin, National Geographic, "Humpback whales make stunning comeback in southern Africa," 18 July 2019 From 'ecstatic' to lawsuit Y.Z., the husband, gave his sperm, while A.P., the wife, underwent the regimen to grow her eggs. Sonja Haller, USA TODAY, "An IVF mom gave birth to someone else's babies. Couple sues clinic, alleges massive mix-up," 8 July 2019 Instead, she was conceived with sperm from a (non-Jewish) donor who was a medical student at the University of Pennsylvania. Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, "The Paternity Reveal," 24 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sperm.' 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 sperm


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for sperm


Middle English, from Middle French esperme, sperme, from Late Latin spermat-, sperma, from Greek, literally, seed, from speirein to sow; probably akin to Armenian p'aratem I dispense

Combining form

Greek sperm-, spermo-, from sperma

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Statistics for sperm

Last Updated

11 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sperm

The first known use of sperm was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for sperm



English Language Learners Definition of sperm

: a cell that is produced by the male sexual organs and that combines with the female's egg in reproduction
: fluid that is produced by the male sexual organs which contains sperm cells


\ ˈspərm How to pronounce sperm (audio) \

Kids Definition of sperm


\ ˈspərm How to pronounce sperm (audio) \
plural sperm or sperms

Medical Definition of sperm

1 : the male impregnating fluid : semen
2 : a male gamete especially : spermatozoon

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More from Merriam-Webster on sperm

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sperm

Spanish Central: Translation of sperm

Nglish: Translation of sperm for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sperm for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about sperm

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