English base sapphic

Dictionary entry: sapphic


New Member
English - England
The word ‘sapphic’ in English is an adjective (which can also be used as a noun) which is an inclusive, umbrella term that describes women-loving women and non-binary people. This includes lesbians and bi/pan women and non-binary people, amongst others.
It is similar to the word ‘queer’, in that it is an umbrella term to describe a diverse and varied community, as well as being an identity in its own right.
The word ‘sapphic’ comes from the ancient Greek poet named Sappho (630-570 BC), who was a queer woman famous for her poetry about other women. She was born and lived on the Greek island of Lesbos (which is also where the term ‘lesbian’ originates).
I write this post to correct the current Word Reference dictionary, as it states that ‘sapphic’ relates to ‘lesbianism’ - which is partly correct, however as stated above, ‘sapphic’ is an inclusive umbrella term which includes bi and pan women and non-binary people (and others), as well as lesbians. Therefore it relates to female bisexuality, for example, as well as lesbianism.
Some examples of ’sapphic’ in context:
’My aunties are sapphics - one is a lesbian and the other is pansexual’
’I am reading a sapphic story about two women who fall in love’
’Sapphic relationships are often fetishised by men’
’Sam came out as a sapphic when they were 19’

I am curious to know the contextual parameters of the Spanish word ‘sáfico’, particularly within queer communities, and whether it carries the same meaning as in English.

thanks :)
  • DrD

    Senior Member
    Dictionary Editor
    England English

    Thank you for your message. I've just checked several monolingual dictionaries, which all give the definition of 'sapphic' as lesbianism or relating to sexual attraction between women. Of course, words change over time, but I'd need to see some evidence to back up your assertion. Are you able to provide some links?

    As to your question about the Spanish word, that's a question for the vocabulary forum; if you post your question there, you should get a quick response from native speakers who can help you with that.


    New Member
    English - England
    hi again,
    although most (non-queer) dictionaries do state that ‘sapphic’ refers to lesbianism, queer sources (which provide the most accurate and up to date information on queer language) say differently.
    even wikipedia states that « Sapphic may refer to: …
    • Sapphic love, attraction between women—not excluding heterosexual attraction and including lesbian, bisexual, and queer women »
    Other sources include:
    What Does Sapphic Mean?
    What Does It Mean to Be Sapphic?
    amongst many others.

    a google search for « what does sapphic mean » brings all these results.

    the reason « relating to lesbianism » is often misstated as the meaning of sapphic is because wlw and nblw are often lumped together under this one category when referring to their attraction towards women, whereas in reality their orientation is not exclusively towards women, hence the need for such a word as sapphic.

    thanks :)