Lionize \LY-uh-nyz\ , transitive verb;
1. To treat or regard as an object of great interest or importance
This word is first attested in 1825 as an intransitive verb "to see the 'lions' of a place." It preserves the sense of lion meaning "person of note who is much sought-after," which dates to the early 1700's in reference to the lions once kept in the Tower of London.
Lion dates tot he late 12th century from Old French lion from Latin leonem, which was borrowed from Greek leon. The source of the Greek term is a non-Indo-European language, possibly Semitic. Most European languages use a form that was borrowed from an older Germanic word.
Today's word and the first definition were both taken from Dictionary.com's 'Word of the Day' for Saturday, September 24
Etymologies come from the Oxford English Dictionary and/or Etymonline.com