• synonyms


See more synonyms for sperm on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural sperm, sperms for 2.
  1. semen.
  2. a male reproductive cell; spermatozoon.
Show More

Origin of sperm1

1350–1400; Middle English sperme < Late Latin sperma < Greek spérma seed, equivalent to sper- (base of speírein to sow seeds) + -ma noun suffix of result



Origin of sperm2

First recorded in 1830–40; by shortening


  1. variant of spermo- before a vowel: spermine.
Show More


  1. a combining form with the meaning “one having seeds” of the kind specified by the initial element: gymnosperm.
Show More

Origin of -sperm

< Greek -spermos; see -spermous
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for sperm

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

British Dictionary definitions for sperm


noun plural sperms or sperm
  1. another name for semen
  2. a male reproductive cell; male gamete
Show More

Word Origin

C14: from Late Latin sperma, from Greek; related to Greek speirein to sow


  1. short for sperm whale, spermaceti, sperm oil
Show More


n combining form
  1. (in botany) a seedgymnosperm
Show More
Derived Forms-spermous or -spermal, adj combining form
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 sperm


late 14c., "male seminal fluid," probably from Old French esperme, from Late Latin sperma "seed, semen," from Greek sperma "seed," from speirein "to sow, scatter," from PIE *sper- "to strew" (see sprout (v.)). Sperm bank is attested from 1963.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

sperm in Medicine


n. pl sperm
  1. A male gamete or reproductive cell; a spermatozoon.
  2. Semen.
Show More


  1. Variant ofspermi-

sperm in Science


A Closer Look: The human sperm cell is divided into a head that contains the nucleus, a mid-section that contains mitochondria to provide energy for the sperm, and a flagellum that allows the sperm to move. When fertilization occurs, the nucleus and other contents from the sperm cells are drawn into the cytoplasm of the egg, but the mitochondria in the sperm are destroyed and do not survive in the zygote. Since mitochondria contain their own DNA (thought to be a relic from an existence as separate symbiotic organisms), all of the mitochrondrial DNA in humans is thus inherited from the female. The semen produced by the male reproductive tract as a medium for sperm typically contains over 100 million sperm cells, all of which have but one purpose: to fertilize the single available egg.

sperm in Culture


The male sex cell, typically consisting of a head, midpiece, and tail. (See fertilization.)

Show More


Sperm are much smaller than the ova they fertilize.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.