When two females, engage in sex with each other OR are romantically involved with each other.



Tribade generally referred to a strong woman figure, or just a woman, who engaged in sex with another woman.

This was the most commonly used word, up to and during the 18th Century in medical literature, as it referred to the word 'rubber' and the notion of the time, being that the sex between two women involved the rubbing of each other, of their genitals rubbing.

It dealt with the sexual act, rather than with the 'orientation' of the women.

Today, the meaning is more in regards to more than just a sexual involvement, in that a romantic relationship is included. Sexual involvement is not a requirement, or condition.


Originally an adjective in the English language, used to describe the people from the Greek Island of Lesbos.

It was associated, in those ancient times, with female homosexuality, due to the writings by Lesbos poetess Sappho, whose verses were considered homoerotic.

Most ancient writers of the time, however, referred to female on female sex, as Tribade, not as a Lesbian.

Until the 19th Century, the meaning of 'Lesbian' still referred to those from the island of Lesbos, a Greek Island.

Until the early 20th Century, Lesbian was interchangeable with Sapphist, but since the 1920's, Lesbian has come to mean the sexual orientation of a woman preferring another woman, over a man.

Earliest written record of same sex love among women, is contained within the works by poetess Sappho, who lived from around 625 to 570 BCE.

History (Legend):

Sapphist MAY have been a common term for a woman engaging in sex with another woman, based on the erotic poems of Sappho, an inhabitant of the island of Lesbos, in ancient times.


Varied as any sex is, except that both participants are female.

Practice (Associated Acts):

Lesbian can also be about a plutonic relationship, where strong emotional ties exist between two women, but does not involve sex.


Three residents of the island, Lesbos campaigned to have the sexual meaning of the word 'Lesbian' removed, or altered.

They argues the sexual meaning was demeaning to their status as citizens of the island. so their identity as islanders wouldn't be confused with being homosexual. The Athens Court ruled against them.

Lesbianism, or the sex between women, has not received the same legal obstacles that males have.

In the UK, sex between women has never been illegal, yet sex between males has only been made legal in England and Wales in 1967, prior to which it was a criminal offence.

Saudi Arabia and Yemen, however, have penalties for lesbianism, which includes imprisonment, lashings, and death. Yet Turkey, mainly Muslim, has no such law and even Iran reportedly has more lenient leanings towards Lesbianism, versus male homosexuality.

Other meanings

In the later 20th Century, many feminists argued that Lesbians were simply women who didn't live a traditional lifestyle, of that being a woman and man exclusively.

In 1980, a noted feminist writer and poet (Adrienne Rich) claimed that Lesbian should refer to women who lived outside of the norm, not in the traditional role, but as women who defied the 'male tyranny' and lived in nontraditional means.

It is also a misconception that Lesbians hate men, or are feminists. Many women have feelings for other women, though they do not always act on those feelings, in a sexual manner.

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