Definition of lion in English:


Line breaks: lion
Pronunciation: /ˈlʌɪən


  • 1A large tawny-coloured cat that lives in prides, found in Africa and NW 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
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    • 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.
    big cat; king of the beasts; lioness
  • 1.1The lion as an emblem (e.g. of English or Scottish royalty) or as a charge in heraldry.
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    • 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.
  • 1.2 (the Lion) The zodiacal sign or constellation Leo.
  • 1.3A brave, strong, or fierce person.
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    • Rather, it's in betting on which young lion may take him out.
    hero, man of courage, brave man, lionheart, lionhearted man; conqueror, champion, conquering hero, warrior, knight, paladin
  • 1.4 (usually literary lion) A notable or famous author.
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    • Maybe just the act of posting a novel in a forum where bored Babus can read it and slam it will be enough to awaken the sleeping literary lion in aspiring novelists.
    • Even bigger if you add that he's working with a major publisher and that literary lion Kurt Vonnegut calls the book ‘… nothing less than the soul of an extremely interesting human being at war…‘
    • Endre Farkas' invitation to celebrate literary lion Pablo Neruda's 100th birthday inspired a series of performative prose-poem vignettes, Proem Cards From Chile.
  • 2 (Lion or British Lion) A member of a touring international rugby union team representing the British Isles.
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    • But the former Wasps centre is not about to embark on a playing career in Australia - he has won a national competition to follow the British Lions rugby union team on tour.
    • A sensation in union with his hat-trick of tries against a 1955 British Lions rugby union side, he delighted the crowds at Knowsley Road for 10 years in the 1950s and 1960s.
    • ‘Rob is a great player and it says everything that he was the first choice scrum-half on two British Lions ' tours only for injury to get in the way,’ he said.
  • 3 (Lion) A member of a Lions Club.
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    • He was a Lion, who joined in 1975 and became the first Secretary of the Virgin Gorda Lions Club.


the lion's den

A demanding, intimidating, or unpleasant place or situation: he marched reluctantly into the lion’s den to address the charity gala
More example sentences
  • There was never room for doubt that he would not survive in the lion's den of comedy: ‘It's one of those things where you have to be relentless.’
  • We know that we are going into the lion's den and we are playing against a side who can score five goals against anybody on any given day.
  • I was right in the lion's den as he had about 500 supporters in his home arena.

the lion's share

British The largest part of something.
More example sentences
  • And yet it has been the market, not public funding, that has generated the lion's share of successful cultural mixing in the arts.
  • It generated more than the lion's share of news headlines this weekend.
  • Unfortunately, the United States must share the lion's share of the burden for now.
most, the majority, the larger part/number, the greater part/number, the best/better part, the main part, more than half, the bulk, the preponderance

throw someone to the lions

Cause someone to be in an extremely dangerous or unpleasant situation.
[with reference to the throwing of Christians to the lions in Roman times]
More 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.



More 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.


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

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