ga·​la·​go gə-ˈlā-(ˌ)gō How to pronounce galago (audio) -ˈlä- How to pronounce galago (audio)
plural galagos

Illustration of galago

Illustration of galago
  • bush baby or galago

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There are six species of galagos, small nocturnal tree-dwelling primates found in forests of sub-Saharan Africa. Galagos are gray, brown, or reddish or yellowish brown animals with large eyes and ears, soft woolly fur, and a long tail. They are active at night, feeding on fruits, insects, and small birds. Galagos have elongated hind limbs that enable them to leap with great agility. Smaller forms, such as the bush baby, are particularly active and agile. Galagos range from 4½–6 in (11–16 cm) long, excluding the 7–8-in (18–20-cm) tail, to 12–15 in (30–37 cm), excluding the 16½–18½-in (42–47-cm) tail.

Examples of galago in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The upshot here is that the best biological jumpers, like the galago, simply have the biggest jumping muscles relative to their body mass. IEEE Spectrum, 4 Mar. 2023 But a capuchin monkey, with eight times as many cortical neurons as a small primate called a galago, has only 11 times as much white matter. Douglas Fox, Discover Magazine, 20 Aug. 2018 The first, a mohol galago — better known as a South African bushbaby — was born April 14 to mother Kirby and father Keanu. Amy Schwabe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 18 June 2021 Some species, like the South African galago, hang out in acacia trees on the savanna. National Geographic, 19 Nov. 2019 Some species of galago can leap more than seven feet straight into the air. National Geographic, 19 Nov. 2019 Here, a joyous catalog teems with life, both familiar like the American black bear and African lion and unfamiliar like the Amazon River dolphin and Senegal galago. San Francisco Chronicle, 25 Apr. 2018 His further research determined that nature's best continuous jumper is the galago, or bush baby, a nocturnal primate native to Africa. Erin Biba, Scientific American, 1 May 2017 The galago's agility metric was twice that of any contemporary jumping robot. Erin Biba, Scientific American, 1 May 2017 See More

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

Word History


borrowed from New Latin & French, perhaps borrowed from Wolof golo "the monkey Erythrocebus patas" + -g, class marker + -u, relative and genitive marker

Note: This etymology is entirely hypothetical, in that the wordʼs source language is unknown, and Wolof uses a different word for Galago senegalensis. The word galago is first recorded in a description of the animal by Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire ("Mémoire sur les rapports naturels des Makis Lemur, L. et Description dʼune espèce nouvelle de Mammifère," Magasin encyclopédique, ou Journal des sciences, des lettres et des arts, tome premier [1796], pp. 20-50). Geoffroy had obtained a skull and apparently a picture (tableau) of the animal from the naturalist Michel Adanson, who had spent the years 1748-55 in Senegal. According to Geoffroy, Adanson reported that "the animal whose head he had brought back was known there under the name galago" (" … quʼon y connoissoit lʼanimal dont il avoit rapporté le tête sous le nom de galago"). In a preceding sentence Geoffroy refers to specimens that Adanson had found in Galam, and it is unclear if the "there" in the later sentence refers to Galam (at the time a Soninke kingdom in northeastern Senegal) or to Senegal in general.

First Known Use

1817, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of galago was in 1817

Dictionary Entries Near galago

Cite this Entry

“Galago.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

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