Definition of sapphic in English:



  • 1humorous, formal Relating to lesbians or lesbianism.

    ‘sapphic lovers’
    • ‘Bonus points to Ben for having his sister sing it, making it sapphic.’
    • ‘Another strategy is adopted in Versary's closing sequence of ‘Sapphics’, a title punning between lesbian contents and sapphic fragments.’
    • ‘Surprisingly, given the straight male interest in lesbian couplings, sapphic commercials are still rare.’
    • ‘It's an appropriate venue for the show's vaudeville-burlesque revivalism with a sapphic flavour.’
    • ‘The sapphic circuit: why is the gay male circuit a bit past its prime while women's events are just heating up?’
    • ‘Japanese macaques are a kind of Scottish monkey now living in Japan where they've developed strong sapphic preferences.’
    • ‘Gradually, as lascivious sapphic tendencies become apparent, the gulf in sexual mores between the youthful maid and her venerable employers becomes more pronounced.’
    • ‘The book casts a flirtatious eye towards sapphic chic and the aesthetic imperative to get dolled up.’
    • ‘But given the magazine's strict lesbian content regs, we might not see another sapphic spotlight for 30 more years.’
    • ‘Indeed, these adolescent, spinster, perhaps sapphic women wrote journals, lyrics, fantastic tales, and stories mediated by the spirits who guided their pens.’
    • ‘It may share Shakespeare's penchant for combining vulgar humour with intellectual high-mindedness, but this drama of sapphic intrigue in late 19 th-century New England is somewhat over-written.’
    • ‘She also played the sapphic Dr. Kitty in the play Last Summer at Bluefish Cove.’
    • ‘The following conversation occurred after the recent spattering of sapphic portrayals in the diva world.’
    • ‘It took five more years, a label change to Atlantic, and the teasingly sapphic hit ‘I Kissed a Girl’ before the Denver-raised New York resident began to set the record straight.’
    • ‘Those who have followed her career since her sapphic turn in The Hunger will most likely be surprised to see her singing and dancing in 8 Women, since she usually plays very serious roles.’
    • ‘Playing a Type A-plus-plus lawyer who's finally learning to acknowledge her sapphic side, she is brilliantly funny and adorably vulnerable.’
    • ‘He also notes that the sapphic story line here won't be his last - his upcoming summer novel from Bantam, A Fistful of Rain, features a lesbian lead character.’
    • ‘But the mayor of one of the Greek island's cities took a British tour group to court in September to block 100 sapphic sojourners from indulging in a stay at a local resort.’
    • ‘As many as 1,200 sapphic travelers sign up for one of Olivia's offerings.’
    • ‘As far as womanscaping, she says, ‘there is a cadre of lesbians who like hairier women, the she-bears of the sapphic world.’’
  • 2Relating to Sappho or her poetry.

    • ‘They may have chosen Lesbos for its Sapphic connections, but I doubt any of them are planning to read poetry this holiday.’
    • ‘With them Horace not only introduced the various Sapphic, Alcaic and Asclepiadic lines to Latin but he set the carmine/ode and lyric agenda for the ages to come.’
    • ‘Reviewers and critics paid Swinburne the compliment of identifying him with Sappho and praising his talent as Sapphic.’
    • ‘I don't know a more seductive syncopated rhythm than that of the Sapphic stanza with its three long lines and one short one.’
    • ‘Rebecca, in my opinion, is the greatest artist of the Sapphic arts around.’
    • ‘The sapphic stanza, which Sappho uses and may have invented, has a strong caesura, as do her other lines.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Another is that I thought it reimagined Aphrodite, her presence, in a Sapphic way.’

plural noun

  • Verse in a metre associated with Sappho.

    • ‘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 (in sapphic (sense 2 of the adjective)): from French saphique, via Latin from Greek Sapphikos, from Sapphō (see Sappho).