\ 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

The parents are now hoping to find out who their daughter’s real father is -- and if Wasilewski sperm was used in another treatment accidentally. Fox News, "New Jersey parents sue fertility clinic after mix-up results in daughter having different biological father: reports," 12 Sep. 2019 Dear Carolyn: My mother conceived both my brother and me using a sperm donor. Carolyn Hax, al, "Carolyn Hax: Secret of sperm-donor baby won’t last long in age of ancestry tests," 17 Aug. 2019 Pearl Necklace Ready for another sperm-centric definition? Sophie Saint Thomas, Allure, "11 Sex Acts You've Always Been Curious About, Defined," 15 May 2018 Upon touching back down to Earth, the rehydrated sperm were used to fertilize mouse eggs (which never left the ground). Nathaniel Scharping, Discover Magazine, "Mice Born From Space Sperm," 24 Jan. 2018 The experiment Orwig has in mind is to use gene-editing technology to fix this flaw in the sperm-forming stem cells and then transplant them back into infertile mice, thereby demonstrating a potential treatment for male infertility. Stephen S. Hall, Scientific American, "The First Tinkering with Human Heredity May Happen in the Infertility Clinic," 28 Dec. 2016 Investigators found semen and sperm on massage tables, towels, blankets, doors, and walls, the records showed. Jeremy C. Fox, BostonGlobe.com, "Quincy woman sentenced to 5 years for sex trafficking," 4 Sep. 2019 Once the doctor cuts the vas deferens, sperm is unable to leave the testicles and is absorbed back into the body. Dara T. Mathis, SELF, "We Need to Stop Acting Like Vasectomies Are Heroic," 29 Aug. 2019 DIGITAL HEALTH Scientists are trying to use CRISPR to alter human sperm. Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, "Obamacare Plans Are Turning a Profit: Brainstorm Health," 22 Aug. 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

22 Sep 2019

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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 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

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).


miscellaneous remnants or debris

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