\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

Some types of sperm get directional information from sensing single molecules. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Big transistor senses the arrival of a single molecule," 29 Oct. 2018 For instance, women who do not currently have a partner or source of sperm typically cannot utilize embryo freezing. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "How Artificial Ovaries Could Expand Fertility Options For Chemo Patients," 5 July 2018 Some of this sperm was injected into egg cells taken from females of the southern white rhino subspecies. NBC News, "Scientists use test-tube science to save nearly extinct rhino," 4 July 2018 Finally, the scientists delved into the makeup of the paternal sperm. Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times, "Do Fathers Who Exercise Have Smarter Babies?," 9 May 2018 People could embrace new possibilities of love and self-expression in keeping with their deeper natures, emancipated from the tyrannies of the sperm and egg, the blastulablob, the diapers and the upchuck and the school tuitions. Lance Morrow, WSJ, "The Sexual Revolution and the Church," 24 Oct. 2018 Step 4 In a process called insemination, the sperm and eggs are placed together in a petri dish and stored that way to facilitate fertilization. Jennifer Gerson, Marie Claire, "Health & Fitness," 1 Oct. 2018 The sperm bank announcement shows how the party increasingly dominates Chinese politics, and how nationalism increasingly is defined according to racial purity. Javier C. HernÁndez, New York Times, "Chinese Sperm Bank Seeks Donors. Only Good Communists Need Apply.," 11 Apr. 2018 The participants' testosterone levels dropped significantly along with two hormones essential for sperm production. Matthew Diebel, USA TODAY, "Birth control pill for men shows promise in early study," 20 Mar. 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.

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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

1 Dec 2018

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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 \

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

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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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