lion's share

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



From Aesop’s fable The Lion's Share, in which a lion claims the full amount of the spoil after hunting with a number of other beasts. In one version of the fable, the lion claims three-quarters of the kill rather than the whole, leaving the three other animals to fight over the remainder.



lion's share (plural lion's shares or lions' shares)

  1. (idiomatic) The majority; a large or generous portion.
    Synonym: leonine share
    They got a large donation, but the lion’s share of the money went straight into paying off debt.
    • 1845 August 8, David Brewster, “XXIX. Observations Connected with the Discovery of the Composition of Water. By Sir David Brewster, K.H., F.R.S., and V.P.R.S. Edin.”, in David Brewster, Richard Taylor, Richard Phillips, and Robert Kane, editors, The London, Edinburgh and Dublin Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science, volume XXVII, number 179 (Third Series), London: Richard and John E[dward] Taylor, [], printers and publishers to the University of London; sold by Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans [et al.], published September 1845, OCLC 288956877, page 195:
      In place of dividing the merit of the discovery between the Englishman and the Scotchman, and giving the lion's share to my countryman, I have given the whole merit of the discovery to [Henry] Cavendish the Englishman, and have reserved only for [James] Watt the Scotchman, the merit of the previous hypothesis,—a merit freely given him by Cavendish himself, and one which no other person ever claimed.
    • 1867 November, “Women in the Middle Ages”, in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, volume CII (American edition, volume LXV), number DCXXV, New York, N.Y.: Published by the Leonard Scott Publishing Company, [], OCLC 1042815524, page 631, column 1:
      But when a fortunate section of them should begin to win lions' shares of the spoil through superior aptitude for the struggle, can we doubt in what direction the disappointed ones would seek for consolation and support?
    • 1873 February 15, “Notes of the Week”, in The Japan Weekly Mail. A Political, Commercial, and Literary Journal, volume IV, number 7, Yokohama: [s.n.], OCLC 472426045, page 97:
      But England suffered great damage, and was put to very heavy expense in compelling restitution. She voluntarily surrendered all claim to the lion's share of the prize, though she certainly did the lion's share of the work, and bore the lion's share of the expense.
    • 1887, Lee Meriwether, “Appendix”, in A Tramp Trip: How to See Europe on Fifty Cents a Day, New York, N.Y.; London: Harper & Brothers, [], OCLC 1474180, page 272:
      The real cause of poverty in Europe is the great wealth of the few. The masses always be poor when a few kings and nobles hoard such enormous lion's shares.
    • 1916, Arnold Bennett, “In the Universe”, in The Lion’s Share, New York, N.Y.: George H. Doran Company, OCLC 604386, page 346:
      You would have the lion's share of everything. Now for myself I intend to have the lion's share. And why shouldn't I? Isn't it about time some woman had it? You can't have the lion's share if you are not free. I mean to be free. If I marry I shall want a husband that is not a prison …
    • 1970, Richard Christie; Florence Geis, “The Ten Dollar Game”, in Studies in Machiavellianism (Social Psychology), New York, N.Y.; London: Academy Press, →ISBN:
      In fact, at the end of some of the Con Game sessions, some subjects suggested playing for money. We must add, however, that it was usually those who had collected the lion's shares of the points who made such suggestions.
    • 2011 February 12, Les Roopanarine, “Birmingham 1 – 0 Stoke”, in BBC Sport[1], archived from the original on 14 June 2018:
      Yet it could have been so different for Tony Pulis's side, who weathered a good start by the hosts to create the lion's share of what few first-half chances came along.


Further reading[edit]