li·​on ˈlī-ən How to pronounce lion (audio)
plural lions
or plural lion : a large heavily built social cat (Panthera leo) of open or rocky areas chiefly of sub-Saharan Africa though once widely distributed throughout Africa and southern Asia that has a tawny body with a tufted tail and a shaggy blackish or dark brown mane in the male
: any of several large wildcats
especially : cougar sense 1
capitalized : leo
: a person felt to resemble a lion (as in courage or ferocity)
: a person of outstanding interest or importance
a literary lion
capitalized [Lions (club)] : a member of a major national and international service club
lionlike adjective

Examples of lion in a Sentence

the roar of the lion He was a literary lion among the writers of his time.
Recent Examples on the Web Touring crews for reigning CMA male vocalist of the year Stapleton and reigning CMA entertainer of the year winner Wilson took home the lion’s share of the awards wins Monday evening. Jessica Nicholson, Billboard, 13 Feb. 2024 Watch this video to see how people train to become fearless lions. Alexandra Banner, CNN, 12 Feb. 2024 Laughter and gossip filled the blue cocoon of Le B as the party crescendoed with a lion dance. Ian Malone, Vogue, 9 Feb. 2024 There are a number of especially fun details to construct in this one, such as the famous Trafalgar Square fountains, two London buses and black cabs, and of course, the four iconic lions — all of which evoke the public square’s vibrant energy. Kathleen Felton, Travel + Leisure, 8 Feb. 2024 My son was in food lion yesterday and could see all the girls dancing in skant (sic) clothing. Catherine Muccigrosso, Charlotte Observer, 6 Feb. 2024 Still, buffalo aren’t lions’ first choice for food, Goheen said. Kyle Melnick, Washington Post, 4 Feb. 2024 Mountain lion habituation an ongoing issue near Hailey Officials said the Magic Valley Fish and Game region has received 85 calls about mountain lions since Oct. 1 of last year, as well as reports of non-fatal lion attacks on pet dogs. Nicole Blanchard, Idaho Statesman, 31 Jan. 2024 Hosted at Miami-Dade College’s Fred Shaw Plaza, guests will be mesmerized by intricate lion dances, a dragon parade, Chinese acrobatics and music, martial arts performances, children’s activities, a marketplace, and lots and lots of authentic Chinese food! Clilly, Miami Herald, 30 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'lion.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English lioun, from Anglo-French leun, lion, from Latin leon-, leo, from Greek leōn

First Known Use

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of lion was in the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near lion

Cite this Entry

“Lion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


li·​on ˈlī-ən How to pronounce lion (audio)
plural lion or lions
: a large flesh-eating mammal of the cat family that has a brownish buff coat, a tufted tail, and in the male a shaggy mane and that lives in open or rocky areas of Africa and formerly southern Asia
lionlike adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on lion

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