[ lahy-uhn ]
See synonyms for: lionlionlike on

  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.

  1. a man of great strength, courage, etc.

  2. a person of great importance, influence, charm, etc., who is much admired as a celebrity: a literary lion.

  3. the lion as the national emblem of Great Britain.

  4. Leo, Astronomy, Astrology. the constellation or sign of Leo.

  5. Leo, 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.

  6. Numismatics.

    • a silver, Anglo-Gallic denier, issued during the reign of Henry III, bearing the figure of a lion.

    • a gold coin of Scotland, issued c1400–1589, bearing the figure of a lion.

    • any of various other coins bearing the figure of a lion.

  7. British. an object of interest or note.

Idioms about lion

  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

First recorded before 900; Middle English, from Old French, variant of leon, from Latin leōn- (stem of leō ), from Greek léōn; replacing Middle English, Old English lēo, from Latin, as above

Other words from lion

  • li·on·esque, adjective
  • li·on·like, li·on·ly, adjective

Words Nearby lion Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use lion in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for lion (1 of 2)


/ (ˈlaɪən) /

  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 mane: Related adjective: leonine

  2. a conventionalized lion, the principal beast used as an emblem in heraldry. It has become the national emblem of Great Britain

  1. a courageous, strong, or bellicose person

  2. a celebrity or idol who attracts much publicity and a large following

  3. beard the lion in his den to approach a feared or influential person, esp in order to ask a favour

  4. the lion's share the largest portion

Origin of lion

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

British Dictionary definitions for Lion (2 of 2)


/ (ˈlaɪən) /

  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

Other Idioms and Phrases with lion


In addition to the idiom beginning with lion

, also see

  • beard the lion
  • throw to the wolves (lions)


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