noun go·ril·la \gə-ˈri-lə\

: 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

:  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
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


noun go·ril·la \gə-ˈri-lə\

Definition of GORILLA for Kids

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

Word History of 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.


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