Merriam Webster Word of the Day: Leonine


The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is leonine. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Leonine means “of, relating to, or resembling a lion.”

// She spent hours in the bathroom trying to detangle her leonine tresses.

LEONINE in Context

“As I tried harder and harder … I began to understand more about what [Fabio] meant at the time, to both me and to his fans. For me, I kind of thought he was just a hood ornament of ’90s masculinity. Heroic and leonine, ripped like He-Man but draped in finely tailored Italian linen. There always seemed to be a wind machine plugged in somewhere just out of his frame.” — Jason Sheeler,, 11 Aug. 2021

Did You Know?

Hear us roar! Most people or characters described as leonine aren’t cowardly (with one famous exception, of course), but rather noble, strong, regal, or possessed of similarly positive virtues associated with pride-forming big cats. Leonine clawed its way into the English language from the Latin word leo (“lion”), which in turn comes from the Greek word leōn. Today, we have an interesting range of words that relate back to leōnleopard (leōn + pardos, a Greek word for a panther-like animal); chameleon (leōn + the Greek chamai, meaning “on the ground”); and the names LeoLeon, and Leonard. But the dancer’s and gymnast’s leotard is not named for its wearer’s cat-like movements. Rather, it was simply named after its inventor, Jules Léotard, a 19th-century French aerial gymnast.

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