li·​on | \ ˈlī-ən How to pronounce lion (audio) \
plural lions

Definition of lion

1a 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
b : any of several large wildcats especially : cougar sense 1
c capitalized : leo
2a : a person felt to resemble a lion (as in courage or ferocity)
b : a person of outstanding interest or importance a literary lion
3 capitalized [Lions (club)] : a member of a major national and international service club

Other Words from lion

lionlike \ ˈlī-​ən-​ˌlīk How to pronounce lion (audio) \ 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 Booths set-up by government agencies, community non-profits and independent art sellers lined the street while lion dancers weaved in and out of the crowd, often stopping to interact with young children mesmerized by the bright, colorful costumes. Danielle Echeverria, San Francisco Chronicle, 17 Sep. 2022 The lion rampant is a nod to the Royal Banner of the Royal Arms of Scotland, the crown’s official banner in Scotland. Alicia Victoria Lozano, NBC News, 11 Sep. 2022 At first, her influence was limited by her lack of experience: Churchill was by 1952 an old lion who still spoke fondly of Queen Victoria. Adrian Higgins, Washington Post, 8 Sep. 2022 The national touring production of this Disney musical about an African lion cub’s coming of age is in its final weekend of performances. San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 Sep. 2022 The celebration, still selling tickets online and at the door, continues Sunday until 9 p.m. and includes multiple lion dances, music, vendors, food and a lantern parade. oregonlive, 4 Sep. 2022 Plescia was hired by the state of Utah in 1976, to restore and repair the lion statues mounted at the side entrances of the Utah State Capitol. Palak Jayswal, The Salt Lake Tribune, 26 Aug. 2022 The film, which relies on visual effects for its big cats, packs suspense and (intentional?) laughs into a tight 90-minute thriller that maintains a strong anti-poaching message despite the aforementioned Elba vs. lion wrestling match. Sonaiya Kelley, Los Angeles Times, 19 Aug. 2022 Fox dressed up in a blue sports bra, biker shorts, a matching sweater, and a light blue and pink fuzzy hat, while Kelly stood out in a pink cartoon lion top and light blue pants. Alyssa Bailey, ELLE, 17 Aug. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lion.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of lion

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

History and Etymology for lion

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

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Time Traveler for lion

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near lion



lion's beard

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Statistics for lion

Last Updated

20 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Lion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for lion


li·​on | \ ˈlī-ən How to pronounce lion (audio) \

Kids Definition of lion

: a large meat-eating animal of the cat family that has a brownish buff coat, a tufted tail, and in the male a shaggy mane and that lives in Africa and southern Asia

More from Merriam-Webster on lion

Nglish: Translation of lion for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lion for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about lion


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