a large, usually tawny-yellow cat, Panthera leo, native to Africa and southern Asia, having a tufted tail and, in the male, a large mane.
any of various related large wildcats, as the cougar.
a man of great strength, courage, etc.
a person of great importance, influence, charm, etc., who is much admired as a celebrity: a literary lion.
the lion as the national emblem of Great Britain.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy, Astrology. the constellation or sign of Leo.
(initial capital letter) a member of any one of the internationally affiliated service clubs (International Association of Lions Clubs) founded in 1917 and dedicated to promoting responsible citizenship, sound government, and community, national, and international welfare.
a silver, Anglo-Gallic denier, issued during the reign of Henry III, bearing the figure of a lion.
a gold coin of Scotland, issued c1400–1589, bearing the figure of a lion.
any of various other coins bearing the figure of a lion.
British. an object of interest or note.
beard the lion in its den, to confront or attack someone, especially a powerful or feared person, in that person's own familiar surroundings.
twist the lion's tail, to tax the patience of or provoke a person, group, nation, or government, especially that of Great Britain.

before 900; Middle English < Old French, variant of leon < Latin leōn- (stem of leō) < Greek léōn; replacing Middle English, Old English lēo < Latin, as above

lionesque, adjective
lionlike, lionly, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
lion (ˈlaɪən)
1.  a large gregarious predatory feline mammal, Panthera leo, of open country in parts of Africa and India, having a tawny yellow coat and, in the male, a shaggy maneRelated: leonine
2.  a conventionalized lion, the principal beast used as an emblem in heraldry. It has become the national emblem of Great Britain
3.  a courageous, strong, or bellicose person
4.  a celebrity or idol who attracts much publicity and a large following
5.  beard the lion in his den to approach a feared or influential person, esp in order to ask a favour
6.  the lion's share the largest portion
Related: leonine
[Old English līo, lēo (Middle English lioun, from Anglo-French liun), both from Latin leo, Greek leōn]

Lion (ˈlaɪən)
the Lion the constellation Leo, the fifth sign of the zodiac

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

late 12c., from O.Fr. lion, from L. leonem (nom. leo), from Gk. leon (gen. leontos), from a non-I.E. language, perhaps Semitic (cf. Heb. labi "lion," pl. lebaim; Egyptian labai, lawai "lioness"). A general Germanic borrowing (cf. Ger. Löwe) found in most European languages, often via Germanic (cf.
O.C.S. liva, Pol. lew, Czech lev, O.Ir. leon, Welsh lew). Used figuratively from c.1200 in an approving sense, "one who is fiercely brave," and a disapproving one, "tyrannical leader, greedy devourer." Lion's share "the greatest portion" is attested from 1790.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Abbreviations & Acronyms
low energy ion and electron instrument
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idiom beginning with lion, also see beard the lion; throw to the wolves (lions).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Others believe full-time faculty members deserve the lion's share of money for
  student instruction.
But the heel pad is too big for a mountain lion, the toes too close to the back
Lifeguards attribute the stinging streak in part to an unusually robust
  population of lion's mane jellies.
Captives, which insure the parent companies' risk, still take the lion's share
  of the alternative-risk market.
Images for lion
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