\ˈspərm \
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

Generally speaking, any acetic fluid, like orange juice or lemon juice, is going to kill sperm. Carolyn Todd, Allure, "The History and Evolution of Birth Control in America," 12 July 2018 The sire, whose sperm was frozen in 2011, was himself a calf born of the SCBI’s early artificial insemination pilot programs in the 1990s. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "New Artificial Insemination Technique Successfully Breeds Critically Endangered Scimitar-Horned Oryx," 10 July 2018 This means, if the subspecies is to be preserved, that one or both of them will have to have some eggs removed from their ovaries and combined with stored sperm in a Petri dish. The Economist, "IVF may bring northern white rhinos back from the brink of extinction," 4 July 2018 Haunted in Texas The widow of an NYPD officer gave birth to a baby girl conceived nearly three years after his death — using sperm preserved from her husband. Houston Chronicle, "Choice made before difficult birth continues to haunt mom," 4 June 2018 Some women have cervical mucus so thick, sperm can't travel through it. Holly V. Hays, Indianapolis Star, "Cystic fibrosis, lung transplant — she was never supposed to be a ‘mama.’ But she is.," 9 May 2018 All doctors cite a study that showed that men who frequently sit in hot tubs will experience a decrease in viable sperm. Ashley Carman, The Verge, "Keeping your laptop on your lap isn’t a major risk to your fertility," 27 Apr. 2018 The situation is much the same in the United States, where 589 large whales (baleen and sperm) were confirmed stranded and dead between 2007 and 2017, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. National Geographic, "This Man Has Helped Give 460 Dead Whales a Second Life—As Art," 9 Apr. 2018 The team decided early on not to transplant the testicles, which could still make the donor’s sperm, Damon Cooney, a professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said during the news briefing. Rachel Becker, The Verge, "In a world first, a US veteran now has a new penis and scrotum," 23 Apr. 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sperm

Phrases Related to sperm

sperm bank

sperm count

sperm donor

Statistics for sperm

Last Updated

20 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sperm

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 \

Kids Definition of sperm


\ˈspərm \
plural sperm or sperms

Medical Definition of sperm 

1 : the male impregnating fluid : semen

2 : a male gamete especially : spermatozoon

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on sperm

What made you want to look up sperm? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!