\ 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

In the meantime, others in the BioRescue team are working on ways to turn preserved skin cells from deceased rhinos into eggs or sperm, a procedure that's so far only been performed with mice. Fox News, "Scientists successfully transfer first test tube rhino embryo," 25 June 2019 With one of Lea’s eggs and Matthew’s sperm, Cecile became pregnant in their first attempt at IVF. Char Adams, PEOPLE.com, "Grandmother, 61, on Giving Birth to Gay Son's Daughter: 'I Didn't Do This for Shock Factor'," 20 June 2019 The semen, which includes sperm and a nuptial gift of concentrated nutrients, is transferred from the male through a duct in the gynosome and into a storage organ. Quanta Magazine, "Why Evolution Reversed These Insects’ Sex Organs," 30 Jan. 2019 Without the addition of sperm, the eggs are stimulated chemically to develop into an embryo that’s a clone of the DNA donor. Mark Barna, Discover Magazine, "State of Science: Are the First Primate Clones Just the Beginning?," 1 Jan. 2019 Female bearded dragons are believed to have the unusual capacity to store sperm, which enables some to lay two separate clutches of 11 to 30 eggs from a single mating. Susan Schabacker, National Geographic, "Bearded dragons," 22 June 2019 Not to mention, many women’s cycles aren’t a perfect 28-days, so shorter periods and longer ovulations give sperm a better window to fertilize an egg. Christina Oehler, Health.com, "Can You Get Pregnant on Your Period? Here’s What an Ob-Gyn Says," 17 June 2019 If anything, reproductive technologies like sperm donation and new family forms, like those born of the frequency of divorce, have only multiplied the scenarios in which biology may take a backseat to social criteria. The Conversation, oregonlive.com, "Who’s is your daddy? It’s not all about DNA," 16 June 2019 If egg and sperm fusion had occurred, the offspring would have two alleles. Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY, "Without the help of any male, this female lizard became pregnant alone and gave birth," 7 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

14 Jul 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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