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lion

Syllabification: li·on
Pronunciation: /ˈlīən
 
/

Definition of lion in English:

noun

1A large tawny-colored cat that lives in prides, found in Africa and northwestern India. The male has a flowing shaggy mane and takes little part in hunting, which is done cooperatively by the females.
  • Panthera leo, family Felidae
Example sentences
  • Three year-old male lions grow manes that vary in color from black to blond.
  • Male lions develop thick woolly manes on the neck and shoulders, signifying maturity.
  • For instance, by choosing to hunt at a different place or time, coyotes avoid wolves, cheetahs avoid lions, and leopards avoid tigers.
1.1 (the Lion) The zodiacal sign or constellation Leo.
1.2A brave or strong person.
Example sentences
  • Though this lion has the tendency to be arrogant, sulky or smug, he/she is unrestrained in bed.
  • It would have been easy to retire and fade back and let the new lions take charge, but this never crossed Al's mind.
1.3An influential or celebrated person: a literary lion
More example sentences
  • He has been justly celebrated as a business lion - and the book reveals a certain beastliness.
  • Is Tim trying to hold off the emerging influence of a young leftie lion?
  • Though he needs no calling card today, how odd, and even sad, it is that this lion of American letters is still struggling to find his way into print.
1.4The lion as an emblem (e.g., of English or Scottish royalty) or as a charge in heraldry.
Example sentences
  • This design is blazoned as ‘Gules, three lions passant guardant in pale Or,’ and it is still the coat of arms of England today.
  • I needn't see the heraldic lion on his clothes' front to know where he came from.
  • He wanted a unique way to show his support for England and so he had the three lions emblem and St George's cross engraved on his false teeth.
2 (Lion) A member of a Lions Club.
Example sentences
  • He was a Lion, who joined in 1975 and became the first Secretary of the Virgin Gorda Lions Club.

Origin

Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French liun, from Latin leo, leon-, from Greek leōn, leont-.

More
  • The lions known in parts of Europe and around the Mediterranean in early times were not African but Asiatic lions, rare animals in the 21st century. The name lion came into English from French, and ultimately from Greek leōn. The Anglo-Saxons had used the Latin form Leo, which was overtaken by lion for the animal, but which is still the name of a constellation and sign of the zodiac.

    In ancient Rome lions and other wild beasts provided entertainment in the amphitheatres. Christians and other dissidents were left at their mercy in the arena, a practice behind our phrase to throw someone to the lions. After the terrible slaughter of British soldiers during the First World War, the phrase lions led by donkeys became popular as a way of encapsulating the idea that the men had been brave, but had been let down by their senior officers. It is not clear who first came up with the description, but the French troops defeated by the Prussians in 1871 were described as ‘lions led by packasses’. From medieval times until the opening of London Zoo in the 19th century, the Tower of London contained a menagerie of unusual animals, among which were lions. Not surprisingly, they were a great attraction for visitors to the city, and the phrase to see the lions sprang up with the meaning ‘to see the sights or attractions of a place’. From there a lion became a celebrity or noted person, a sense which gave us lionize, ‘to treat as a celebrity’, in the 1830s. See also beard

Phrases

throw someone to the lions

1
Cause someone to be in an extremely dangerous or unpleasant situation.
[with reference to the throwing of Christians to the lions in Roman times]
Example sentences
  • Hey, at least we're not throwing them to the lions.
  • I am willing to give it a shot by throwing him to the lions and asking him what he prefers afterwards.
  • Everyone there reckoned the BBC were throwing him to the lions, but he waltzed through it and has gone from strength to strength ever since.

Derivatives

lionlike

1
adjective
Example sentences
  • More often than not, that last little bit doesn't get thrown in with lion-like qualities.
  • The lion-like predator, which could stand nearly one metre and weighed about 250 kilograms, had a pair of retractable thumb-like claws to disembowel or drag prey up trees.
  • Yellow dogs were also more lion-like in appearance.

Words that rhyme with lion

Brian, cyan, Gaian, Geminian, Hawaiian, ion, iron, Ixion, Lyon, Mayan, Narayan, O'Brien, Orion, Paraguayan, prion, Ryan, scion, Uruguayan, Zion

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