go·​ril·​la | \gə-ˈri-lə \

Definition of gorilla 

1 : a very large typically black-colored anthropoid ape (Gorilla gorilla) of equatorial Africa that has a stocky body with broad shoulders and long arms and is less erect and has smaller ears than the chimpanzee

2a : an ugly or brutal man

b : thug, goon

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Examples of gorilla in a Sentence

She hired some gorilla as her bodyguard. the loan shark sent a couple of gorillas to “convince” him to pay up

Recent Examples on the Web

Adult male gorillas consistently groom and even cuddle with little ones. Alison Gopnik, WSJ, "For Gorillas, Being a Good Dad Is Sexy," 30 Nov. 2018 Now, he is concerned that Virunga’s closure could impact the gorillas in the long-term. New York Times, "After Violence, Congo’s Virunga National Park Closes for the Year," 14 June 2018 This popular race honors one of the most famous zoo residents, Samson, the silverback gorilla (1950-1981). Amy Schwabe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Weekend Guide: Race at the Milwaukee Zoo, free swimming in Brookfield and more," 10 Jan. 2018 In Fernandez and his colleagues’ study, A. afarensis and Australopithecus africanus (which lived 3.3 million to 2.1 million years ago) both had metatarsals that look much more like modern gorillas, in particular, than like modern humans. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "The road to bipedalism wasn’t straight and narrow," 15 Aug. 2018 That’s the time that gorillas and humans separated in evolution. Washington Post, "Koko the gorilla used smarts, empathy to help change views," 21 June 2018 Ebola virus disease, which causes fever, severe headache and in some cases hemorrhaging, most commonly affects people and nonhuman primates, such as monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees. Susan Scutti, CNN, "Ebola outbreak in DRC is 'ongoing' but WHO is 'cautiously optimistic'," 8 June 2018 After three deaths at the Milwaukee County Zoo in April (two gorillas and one snow leopard), the zoo is happy to announce two births in May. The latest new addition to the zoo family is a baby harbor seal, who was born early Wednesday morning. Lainey Seyler, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A baby seal was born at the Milwaukee County Zoo Wednesday," 31 May 2018 In 2015, Google’s photo-organizing product tagged some images of black people as gorillas, and the service has been blind to searches for the black apes ever since. Tom Simonite, WIRED, "Google's New AI Head Is So Smart He Doesn't Need AI," 18 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gorilla.' 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 gorilla

1832, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for gorilla

New Latin, from Greek Gorillai, plural, a tribe of hairy women mentioned in an account of a voyage around Africa

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Statistics for gorilla

Last Updated

10 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gorilla

The first known use of gorilla was in 1832

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Financial Definition of gorilla

What It Is

A gorilla is a company that controls most of the market for a product or service.

How It Works

For example, in the 1990s, Microsoft was a gorilla in the market for operating systems. Sure, there were  competitors, but they were very small, had tiny market shares, and avoided taking Microsoft on directly. Microsoft had billions to invest in marketing and innovation, and could easily undercut, out-distribute, and outsell these tiny competitors. As the saying goes, an 800-pound gorilla does whatever it wants.

Why It Matters

A gorilla's huge size means that competitors must carefully consider the gorilla's potential reactions to certain business decisions. Many gorillas have a shot at monopolizing the market. However, federal antitrust laws, most notably the Sherman Act, make collusive activity and monopolistic behavior illegal in the United States. There is, however, still an incentive to compete with a gorilla. After all, an undetected price cut (or increase in production) will attract customers who are buying from the gorilla and customers who are not buying the product at all. Price adjustments may be subtle, including better credit terms, faster delivery or related free services.

Gorillas are most effective when the demand for the gorilla's product is not very affected by price. This is why gorillas are more effective in the short term; over the long term, prices often become elastic as consumers find cheaper substitutes for the product.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of gorilla

: a type of very large ape that has black fur and that comes from Africa

: a large, strong, and usually ugly or frightening man


go·​ril·​la | \gə-ˈri-lə \

Kids Definition of gorilla

: a very large ape of the forests of central Africa that lives mostly on the ground

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Comments on gorilla

What made you want to look up gorilla? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


living or existing for a long time

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