go·​ril·​la gə-ˈri-lə How to pronounce gorilla (audio)
: 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
: an ugly or brutal man
: thug, goon

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 Unfortunately, the attempts were unsuccessful, and the staff made the difficult decision to send the two-and-a-half-month-old gorilla elsewhere. Harriet Ramos, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 3 Apr. 2024 This kid gorilla leads Kong to a tribe of scraggly hostile apes who are living in a slave society presided over by the Skar King, an evil ape with blotchy red hair who’s as tall as Kong and wields a skeletal bone whip that looks like it was fashioned out of the spine of a sea serpent. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 28 Mar. 2024 Users who click on the link in the Facebook post are taken to a Reddit page with an image of a gorilla making an obscene gesture, which indicates the post was a joke. Brieanna J. Frank, USA TODAY, 25 Mar. 2024 Patel plays Kid, an anonymous young man who ekes out a meager living in an underground fight club where, night after night, wearing a gorilla mask, he is beaten bloody by more popular fighters for cash. Pamela McClintock, The Hollywood Reporter, 26 Jan. 2024 After attempts to find a surrogate mother for Jameela among the other females in the gorilla troop failed, zoo staff made the difficult decision to send the two-and-a-half-month-old gorilla to a facility with previous surrogacy success. Harriet Ramos, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 23 Mar. 2024 In October, two zookeepers were accidentally trapped in a silverback gorilla's enclosure with the animal. Kelli Bender, Peoplemag, 19 Mar. 2024 Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a founding member of the Gorilla Rehabilitation And Conservation Education Center, GRACE, and a gorilla named Grace at the park helps guests connect with her counterparts in the wild. USA TODAY, 25 Feb. 2024 Winston, an older gorilla, is getting enviable medical treatment. Rachel Nuwer, New York Times, 6 Feb. 2024

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

1832, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of gorilla was in 1832

Dictionary Entries Near gorilla

Cite this Entry

“Gorilla.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gorilla. Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


go·​ril·​la gə-ˈril-ə How to pronounce gorilla (audio)
: a typically black ape of equatorial Africa that is much larger but stands less erect than the related chimpanzee

derived from Greek Gorillai, a name used by ancient explorers for what they thought was a tribe of hairy women in Africa

More from Merriam-Webster on gorilla

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