\ 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

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 Though stored sperm from Sudan and several other males are available, both Najin and Fatu now seem unable to conceive. The Economist, "IVF may bring northern white rhinos back from the brink of extinction," 4 July 2018 Using frozen sperm from northern white rhinos and eggs from closely related southern white rhinos, the scientists created hybrid embryos that can potentially be implanted into surrogate southern white rhino mothers. New York Times, "Rhino Embryos Made in Lab to Save Nearly Extinct Subspecies," 4 July 2018 The team had been working for years on a robotic power-boost for slow swimmers—originally intended to help couples with low sperm motility conceive. Megan Molteni, WIRED, "Spermbots Offer a Promising New Way to Target Cancer," 17 May 2018 World Health Organization numbers suggest that reducing sperm motility by 50 percent or less is sufficient to temporarily make a man infertile. Smithsonian, "Heart-Stopping Arrow Poison Could Be the Key to Male Birth Control," 31 Jan. 2018 The mammalian fertilization process involving the sperm and egg wasn’t even observed until the late 19th century, so our understanding of reproduction was pretty limited for most of human history. Carolyn Todd, Allure, "The History and Evolution of Birth Control in America," 12 July 2018 Normally, when animals make eggs and sperm, they get rid of one of their two sets of chromosomes. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Mutant crayfish got rid of males, and its clones are taking over the world," 6 Feb. 2018 Two years ago, her wife gave birth to twins via a sperm donor. Jeneé Osterheldt, kansascity, "Putting a face on same-sex marriage," 29 June 2013

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

22 Sep 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 deposit or conceal in a hiding place

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!