noun orang·u·tan \ə-ˈraŋ-ə-ˌtaŋ, -ˈraŋ-gə-, -ˌtan\

: a large ape that has very long arms and reddish-brown hair

Full Definition of ORANGUTAN

:  a largely herbivorous arboreal anthropoid ape (Pongo pygmaeus) of Borneo and Sumatra that is about 23 as large as the gorilla and has brown skin, long sparse reddish-brown hair, and very long arms

Illustration of ORANGUTAN


Bazaar Malay (Malay-based pidgin), from Malay orang man + hutan forest
First Known Use: 1691
ORANGUTAN Defined for Kids


noun orang·utan \ə-ˈraŋ-ə-ˌtaŋ, -ˌtan\

Definition of ORANGUTAN for Kids

:  a large ape of Borneo and Sumatra that lives in trees, eats mostly fruit, leaves, and other plant matter, and has very long arms, long reddish brown hair, and a nearly hairless face

Word History of ORANGUTAN

Orangutans live in dense tropical forests on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, part of Indonesia. Like most apes they look a bit like humans. In a language called Malay, spoken by many people of Indonesia as a second language, the apes were given a name formed from Malay orang, man, and hutan, forest—in other words, man of the forest. Europeans visiting the islands adopted the word orangutan, and it found its way into English.


Next Word in the Dictionary: OranianPrevious Word in the Dictionary: Orang LautAll Words Near: orangutan
How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
Test your vocab with our fun, fast game
Ailurophobia, and 9 other unusual fears