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lion

[lahy-uh n]
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noun
  1. a large, usually tawny-yellow cat, Panthera leo, native to Africa and southern Asia, having a tufted tail and, in the male, a large mane.
  2. any of various related large wildcats, as the cougar.
  3. a man of great strength, courage, etc.
  4. a person of great importance, influence, charm, etc., who is much admired as a celebrity: a literary lion.
  5. the lion as the national emblem of Great Britain.
  6. (initial capital letter) Astronomy, Astrology. the constellation or sign of Leo.
  7. (initial capital letter) a member of any one of the internationally affiliated service clubs (International Association of Lions Clubs) founded in 1917 and dedicated to promoting responsible citizenship, sound government, and community, national, and international welfare.
  8. Numismatics.
    1. a silver, Anglo-Gallic denier, issued during the reign of Henry III, bearing the figure of a lion.
    2. a gold coin of Scotland, issued c1400–1589, bearing the figure of a lion.
    3. any of various other coins bearing the figure of a lion.
    4. hardhead2.
  9. British. an object of interest or note.
Idioms
  1. beard the lion in its den, to confront or attack someone, especially a powerful or feared person, in that person's own familiar surroundings.
  2. twist the lion's tail, to tax the patience of or provoke a person, group, nation, or government, especially that of Great Britain.

Origin of lion

before 900; Middle English < Old French, variant of leon < Latin leōn- (stem of leō) < Greek léōn; replacing Middle English, Old English lēo < Latin, as above
Related formsli·on·esque, adjectiveli·on·like, li·on·ly, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for lion

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Well, boy, I'd say that the lion had been chawed up considerable—by dogs.

  • It is a fool's plan to teach a man to be a cur in peace, and think that he will be a lion in war.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • I want to make a cushion of my lion's skin, for the weight to rest upon.

    The Three Golden Apples

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • But pretty soon there was plenty of sound, for the lion was catching up.

    Tom Sawyer Abroad

    Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

  • That one is the lion; and they hunt him with spears in the long grass.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White


British Dictionary definitions for lion

lion

noun
  1. a large gregarious predatory feline mammal, Panthera leo, of open country in parts of Africa and India, having a tawny yellow coat and, in the male, a shaggy maneRelated adjective: leonine
  2. a conventionalized lion, the principal beast used as an emblem in heraldry. It has become the national emblem of Great Britain
  3. a courageous, strong, or bellicose person
  4. a celebrity or idol who attracts much publicity and a large following
  5. beard the lion in his den to approach a feared or influential person, esp in order to ask a favour
  6. the lion's share the largest portion

Word Origin

Old English līo, lēo (Middle English lioun, from Anglo-French liun), both from Latin leo, Greek leōn

Lion

noun
  1. the Lion the constellation Leo, the fifth sign of the zodiac
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for lion

n.

late 12c., from Old French lion "lion," figuratively "hero," from Latin leonem (nominative leo) "lion; the constellation leo," from Greek leon (genitive leontos), from a non-Indo-European language, perhaps Semitic (cf. Hebrew labhi "lion," plural lebaim; Egyptian labai, lawai "lioness").

A general Germanic borrowing from Latin (cf. Old English leo, Anglian lea; Old Frisian lawa; Middle Dutch leuwe, Dutch leeuw; Old High German lewo, German Löwe); it is found in most European languages, often via Germanic (cf. Old Church Slavonic livu, Polish lew, Czech lev, Old Irish leon, Welsh llew). Used figuratively from c.1200 in an approving sense, "one who is fiercely brave," and a disapproving one, "tyrannical leader, greedy devourer." Lion's share "the greatest portion" is attested from 1701.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with lion

lion

In addition to the idiom beginning with lion

, also see

.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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