Definition: A larger portion than others’ portions; the largest part of a whole.
This expression is based on one of Aesop’s fables. Aesop was a Greek slave who lived between 500 and 600 B.C. People attribute many famous fables to him.
One of these many fables is about a lion. There are several variations of the story. However, in all versions the gist is that the lion asks several other animals to help him hunt.
After they catch their prey, the lion offers to split the kill between them all. He divides it into equal parts, but then gives various reasons why he should keep each part. These include that he is king of the jungle and other reasons involving his strength or superiority.
In the end, the other animals that helped him hunt receive nothing, or a very small part.
The moral of this story is not to trust partnerships with those much more powerful than oneself.
However, even more enduring than this moral is the idiom itself. A lion’s share means the biggest portion since the lion in the story took more than all the other animals.
The dialogue below shows two friends preparing to share a cake.
Giuseppe: My coworkers gave me some cake for my birthday, but I couldn’t finish it all. I brought it home to eat later. Would you like some?
May: Sure! I’d love some!
Giuseppe: How big of a slice do you want?
May: Maybe just half of that. I can cut it.
Giuseppe: Hm. I’m not sure you really gave yourself half. It seems like you gave me the lion’s share.
May: That’s true. I didn’t want to take too much since it’s your birthday!
In the dialogue below, a father is talking to his daughter about a bully at her school.
Rafal: Vesna, you seem stressed about something. What is it?
Vesna: Well, there’s another student in my class who always takes the lion’s share of the crayons and markers during art class. It’s not fair that he gets so much more than us.
Rafal: Why doesn’t your teacher stop him?
Vesna: The art teacher is his mother.
This excerpt is about the profits from an MMA fight.
- Luckily for the wallets of both Mayweather and McGregor, ticket sales are just a drop in the bucket for their overall payday. Pay-per-view buys make up the lion’s share of the purse and the fight is still expected to bring in more than the record 4.6 million buy set by the Mayweather-Pacquiao bout. –New York Post
The second excerpt is from an article about the US Navy.
- Courtney said that since submarines will “carry the lion’s share of our nuclear deterrence,” the Columbia class is a “must-do project.” –New York Daily News
The idiom lion’s share means the largest part of something divided amongst other people.