Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

gorilla

play
noun go·ril·la \gə-ˈri-lə\

Simple Definition of gorilla

  • : a type of very large ape that has black fur and that comes from Africa

  • : a large, strong, and usually ugly or frightening man

Full Definition of gorilla

  1. 1 :  a very large typically black-colored anthropoid ape (Gorilla gorilla) of equatorial Africa that has a stocky body with broad shoulders and long arms and is less erect and has smaller ears than the chimpanzee

  2. 2 a :  an ugly or brutal man b :  thug, goon

Examples of gorilla

  1. She hired some gorilla as her bodyguard.

  2. <the loan shark sent a couple of gorillas to convince him to pay up>



Origin of gorilla

New Latin, from Greek Gorillai, plural, a tribe of hairy women mentioned in an account of a voyage around Africa


First Known Use: 1847


GORILLA Defined for Kids

gorilla

play
noun go·ril·la \gə-ˈri-lə\

Definition of gorilla

  1. :  a very large ape of the forests of central Africa that lives mostly on the ground



History for gorilla

In the sixth century b.c. the navigator Hanno, from the city of Carthage, made a trip around the west coast of Africa. An account of his journey disappeared, though a Greek translation survives. Near the furthest point on their voyage Hanno and his men came upon an island “full of wild people, the greater part of whom were females, hairy on their bodies, whom our interpreters called Gorillas.” When the great ape we know as the gorilla was first described by scientists in the 1800s, it was given the Latin name Gorilla gorilla in recollection of Hanno's description—though exactly what Hanno saw in Africa we will never know.



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up gorilla? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

February 9, 2016

marked by high spirits and laughter

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image1037863653

Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

kittly-benders spindrift duvet pince-nez
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ