bo·​no·​bo bə-ˈnō-bō How to pronounce bonobo (audio) ˈbä-nə-bō How to pronounce bonobo (audio)
plural bonobos
: a rare anthropoid ape (Pan paniscus) that has a more slender build and longer limbs than the related common chimpanzee (P. troglodytes) and that inhabits a small geographic region in equatorial Africa south of the Congo River

called also pygmy chimpanzee

Examples of bonobo in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Today, only gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans remain. Mithil Aggarwal, NBC News, 11 Jan. 2024 In the years since that encounter, Cartmill and her colleagues have analyzed 75 hours of footage from two zoos of chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, and gorillas exhibiting similarly impish behavior. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 14 Feb. 2024 Chimpanzees belong to the Hominidae family, which includes the great apes: gorillas, orangutans, bonobos, and humans. Jake Parks, Discover Magazine, 30 Jan. 2024 The researchers looked at four populations of apes in three different sites: chimpanzees at Scotland’s Edinburgh Zoo, bonobos at Planckendael Zoo in Belgium, and chimps and bonobos at Kumamoto Sanctuary in Japan. Corinne Purtill, Los Angeles Times, 18 Dec. 2023 Another 45 genes underwent this process since humans split off from the ancestors of chimps and bonobos. John Timmer, Ars Technica, 5 Jan. 2023 Along with chimpanzees, bonobos are some of our closest living relatives. Laura Baisas, Popular Science, 16 Nov. 2023 The Inquisitive Curiosity of Apes and Infants The researchers presented 29 great apes (15 chimpanzees, 3 gorillas, 6 bonobos and 5 orangutans) with a series of choice experiments. Conor Feehly, Discover Magazine, 25 July 2023 Louise is a bonobo at Kumamoto Sanctuary who had been transferred there 26 years earlier from the San Diego Zoo. Corinne Purtill, Los Angeles Times, 18 Dec. 2023

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

Word History


origin unknown

First Known Use

1955, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bonobo was in 1955

Dictionary Entries Near bonobo

Cite this Entry

“Bonobo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

Medical Definition


: a rare anthropoid ape of the genus Pan (P. paniscus) that has a more slender build and longer limbs than the related common chimpanzee (P. troglodytes)

called also pygmy chimpanzee

More from Merriam-Webster on bonobo

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