go·​ril·​la | \ gə-ˈri-lə How to pronounce gorilla (audio) \

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

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 The only jungle is a manmade one at the San Diego wildlife sanctuary where George, the gorilla, lives. Eva Holland, Outside Online, 14 Aug. 2022 No amount of talking, though, will make the gorilla slink away. Blake Toppmeyer, USA TODAY, 21 July 2022 Video on YouTube shows park visitors trying to distract the gorilla by whistling and calling his name, Franklin. Gary Warth, San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 June 2022 Getting snared in having missed seeing the gorilla is a huge takedown in our cognitive confidence. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 22 May 2022 The brutal evolutionary gorilla in the salon of civilization must be treated to tea and compliments. M. D. Aeschliman, National Review, 27 Mar. 2022 The big gorilla of retirement living is the Villages, seventy miles west, America’s fastest-growing metro area. Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker, 21 Mar. 2022 An African explorer, Paul Du Chaillu, was the first westerner to describe the gorilla. Dodie Kazanjian, Vogue, 10 Mar. 2022 When Juba notices Findley, the male gorilla turns to face the zookeeper and gazes at her baby. Kelli Bender, PEOPLE.com, 4 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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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The first known use of gorilla was in 1832

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Last Updated

21 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Gorilla.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gorilla. Accessed 27 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for gorilla


go·​ril·​la | \ gə-ˈri-lə How to pronounce gorilla (audio) \

Kids Definition of gorilla

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

More from Merriam-Webster on gorilla

Nglish: Translation of gorilla for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gorilla for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about gorilla


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