lesbian (adj.) 1590s, "pertaining to the island of Lesbos," from L. Lesbius, from Gk. lesbios "of Lesbos," Greek island in northeastern Aegean Sea (the name originally may have meant "wooded"), home of Sappho, great lyric poet whose erotic and romantic verse embraced women as well as men, hence meaning "relating to homosexual relations between women" (1890; lesbianism in this sense is attested from 1870) and the noun, first recorded 1925. Before this, the principal figurative use (common in 17c.) was lesbian rule (c.1600) a mason's rule of lead, of a type used on Lesbos, which could be bent to fit the curves of a molding; hence, "pliant morality or judgment."
And this is the nature of the equitable, a correction of law where it is defective owing to its universality. ... For when the thing is indefinite the rule also is indefinite, like the leaden rule used in making the Lesbian moulding; the rule adapts itself to the shape of the stone and is not rigid, and so too the decree is adapted to the facts. [Aristotle, "Nicomachean Ethics"]

Etymology dictionary. 2014.

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  • lesbian — LESBIÁN, Ă, lesbieni, e, subst., adj. 1. s.m. şi f. Persoană care face parte din populaţia de bază a insulei Lesbos sau este originară de acolo. 2. adj. Care aparţine Lesbosului sau populaţiei lui, privitor la Lesbos sau la populaţia lui. 3. s.f …   Dicționar Român

  • Lesbian — Les bi*an (l[e^]z b[i^]*an), a. 1. Of or pertaining to the island anciently called Lesbos, now Mitylene, in the Grecian Archipelago. [1913 Webster] 2. Amatory; erotic; in allusion to the reputed sensuality of the Lesbian people and literature; as …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Lesbian — Les bi*an (l[e^]z b[i^]*an), n. a female homosexual. Syn: dyke[vulgar, deprecatory]. [PJC] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • lesbian — ► NOUN ▪ a homosexual woman. ► ADJECTIVE ▪ referring to lesbians or lesbianism. DERIVATIVES lesbianism noun. ORIGIN from Lesbos, Greek island and home of Sappho (early 7th century BC), who expressed affection for women in her poetry …   English terms dictionary

  • lesbian — [lez′bē ən] adj. [L Lesbius < Gr Lesbios] 1. [L ] of Lesbos or its people or cultureof Lesbos or its people or culture 2. [from the eroticism or homosexuality attributed to Sappho and her followers in Lesbos] [sometimes L ] a) of homosexuality …   English World dictionary

  • Lesbian — This article is about the sexual orientation. For other uses, see Lesbian (disambiguation) …   Wikipedia

  • lesbian — 01. Diane has been in a [lesbian] relationship with her partner for three years. 02. Rachel was married for a number of years before realizing she was, in fact, a [lesbian]. 03. [Lesbian] couples and gay couples have the same rights and… …   Grammatical examples in English

  • lesbian — [[t]le̱zbiən[/t]] ♦♦♦ lesbians 1) ADJ Lesbian is used to describe homosexual women. Many of her best friends were lesbian. N COUNT A lesbian is a woman who is lesbian. ...a youth group for lesbians, gays and bisexuals. 2) ADJ Lesbian is used to… …   English dictionary

  • lesbian — {{Roman}}I.{{/Roman}} noun ADJECTIVE ▪ butch ▪ femme, lipstick ▪ out ▪ She s an out lesbian. ▪ closet …   Collocations dictionary

  • lesbian — UK [ˈlezbɪən] / US noun [countable] Word forms lesbian : singular lesbian plural lesbians a woman who is sexually attracted to women. You can describe men or women who are sexually attracted to members of the same sex as gay or homosexual.… …   English dictionary

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