1 of 2


plural zoos
: a facility with usually indoor and outdoor settings where living, typically wild animals are kept especially for public exhibition

called also zoological garden, zoological park

: a place, situation, or group marked by crowding, confusion, or unrestrained behavior
The convention was a zoo.


2 of 2

combining form

variants or before a vowel zo-
: animal : animal kingdom or kind
: motile

Examples of zoo in a Sentence

Noun The sixth grade classroom was a zoo after recess. The supermarket was a real zoo on the night before the storm.
Recent Examples on the Web
The walruses are now back in Indy after spending the last 18 months at Sea World in Orlando while their habitat was being renovated, according to the zoo's post on Instagram. Katie Wiseman, The Indianapolis Star, 1 July 2024 The zoo’s previous pandas returned to China last November, marking the first time in 23 years that the nation’s capital has been panda-free. Will Sullivan, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 July 2024 The Wildlife Care Specialists team knew two of the African elephants in the zoo's Elephant Odyssey habitat – Nipho, a 12-year-old African male elephant, and half-brother Sundzu – liked the rain. Mike Snider, USA TODAY, 25 June 2024 Many of her fans were not convinced and demanded her return to China, which had already been scheduled for last year as the zoo’s 20-year loan agreement for the pandas reached its end. Cheng Wong, NBC News, 25 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for zoo 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'zoo.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



short for zoological garden

Combining form

borrowed from Greek zōo-, zōio-, combining form from zôion "animal," derivative from the base of zṓō, zṓein (Homeric), zô, zên (Attic) "to be alive, live," going back to Indo-European *gwi̯éh3-(u)- "live" (whence also Tocharian B śāyau "[I] live"), full grade of a stem attested elsewhere with zero grade as *gwih3-u-, whence Latin vīvō, vīvere "to live," Old Church Slavic živǫ, žiti, Old Prussian giwa "(s/he) lives," Latvian dzīvu "(I) live," Sanskrit jīvati "(s/he) lives," Avestan juuaiti

Note: See also bio-, quick entry 1.

First Known Use


1835, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of zoo was in 1835

Dictionary Entries Near zoo

Cite this Entry

“Zoo.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zoo. Accessed 15 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


plural zoos
: a garden or park where living usually wild animals are kept for showing to the public

More from Merriam-Webster on zoo

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