gib·​bon | \ˈgi-bən \

Definition of gibbon 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: any of a genus (Hylobates of the family Hylobatidae) of agile brachiating tailless apes of southeastern Asia that are the smallest and most arboreal anthropoid apes


biographical name
Gib·​bon | \ˈgi-bən \

Definition of Gibbon (Entry 2 of 2)

Edward 1737–1794 English historian

Illustration of gibbon

Illustration of gibbon


In the meaning defined above

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Other Words from gibbon

Biographical name

Gibbonesque \ ˌgi-​bə-​ˈnesk \ or Gibbonian \ gi-​ˈbō-​nē-​ən \ adjective

Examples of gibbon in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But the imperial gibbon discovery suggests this isn't the case. National Geographic, "Ancient Royal Tomb Yields Strange New Ape Species," 21 June 2018 Deforestation has shrunk the gibbons' habitat, Science reported. Joel Shannon, USA TODAY, "Extinct gibbon discovered in an ancient tomb. It might have been a pet.," 21 June 2018 Dr Turvey and his colleagues were thus able to compare the animal’s skull, jaw and teeth with those of modern gibbons. The Economist, "A new species of gibbon is found in a 2,200-year-old tomb," 23 June 2018 An ancient Chinese royal tomb may contain more surprising discoveries than anyone expected, including what appears to be a previously unknown species of gibbon that has since been driven to extinction. Eli Meixler, Time, "An Ancient Chinese Tomb Reveals an Extinct Species of Gibbon, and a Warning," 22 June 2018 By harnessing computer modelling, scientists were able to identify a new genus and species of gibbon. James Rogers, Fox News, "Mysterious remains of extinct ape discovered in ancient Chinese tomb," 22 June 2018 Wei-Haas reports that the fossil suggests that gibbons may have lived in central China 2,000 years ago. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Extinct Gibbon Species Discovered in 2,000-Year-Old Chinese Tomb," 23 June 2018 The Imperial Chinese reverence for gibbons apparently didn't extend to preserving their habitat. Gretchen Vogel, Science | AAAS, "Vanished ape found in ancient Chinese tomb, giving clues to its disappearance," 21 June 2018 Samuel Turvey, a conservationist and gibbon expert, was touring a Chinese museum in 2009 when a partial skull caught his eye. Karen Weintraub, New York Times, "Extinct Gibbon Found in Tomb of Ancient Chinese Emperor’s Grandmother," 21 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gibbon.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of gibbon


1774, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for gibbon



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2 Oct 2018

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The first known use of gibbon was in 1774

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English Language Learners Definition of gibbon

: a small ape of southeastern Asia that has long arms and legs and lives mostly in trees


gib·​bon | \ˈgi-bən \

Kids Definition of gibbon

: a small tailless ape of southeastern Asia that has long arms and legs and lives mostly in trees

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