Definition of sapphic in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsafik/


1 formal or humorous Relating to lesbians or lesbianism: sapphic lovers
More example sentences
  • Surprisingly, given the straight male interest in lesbian couplings, sapphic commercials are still rare.
  • Another strategy is adopted in Versary's closing sequence of ‘Sapphics’, a title punning between lesbian contents and sapphic fragments.
  • As far as womanscaping, she says, ‘there is a cadre of lesbians who like hairier women, the she-bears of the sapphic world.’
2 (Sapphic) Relating to Sappho or her poetry.
Example sentences
  • In other words, the Sapphic lyric refuses the chronological unfolding of time and instead endlessly repeats the activity of looking back to the past even as it predicts its own future rewriting.
  • Reviewers and critics paid Swinburne the compliment of identifying him with Sappho and praising his talent as Sapphic.
  • Another is that I thought it reimagined Aphrodite, her presence, in a Sapphic way.

plural noun

Verse in a meter associated with Sappho.
Example sentences
  • Meanwhile soldier poets wrote odes and sapphics based on dead forms borrowed from the Greeks while laying plans to translate the Aeneid.


Early 16th century (sense 2 of the adjective): from French saphique, via Latin from Greek Sapphikos, from Sapphō (see Sappho).

  • lesbian from late 19th century:

    Sappho was a Greek lyric poet of the early 7th century bc who lived on the Greek island of Lesbos (often now found in the Greek spelling Lesvos). Despite the fact that we know very little of her life, and that there is an unsupported tradition that she killed herself for love of a young man, the fragments of her poems also express her affection and admiration for women, and so people came to associate her with female homosexuality. In the late 19th century she inspired two descriptive terms, lesbian, from her island home of Lesbos, and sapphic.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: sap·phic

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