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

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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 Over the years, the landfill hosted a go-cart racing track known for a gaudy sign featuring a screaming gorilla. Steven Litt, cleveland, 22 June 2021 At the Prague Zoo, a gorilla and two lions contracted COVID-19 in late February. Jessica Mathews, Fortune, 9 June 2021 Previous research has shown that a gorilla's larger body size is linked to reproductive success and social rank, the Guardian reports. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, 12 Apr. 2021 But the gorilla is scared off when the snake begins to slither. Alison Fox, Travel + Leisure, 29 June 2021 That is why Walmart must retool its whole operation in order to gain traction against the gorilla that is growing as an ever more popular market place. Walter Loeb, Forbes, 19 May 2021 The viewers were asked to keep a silent count of the number of passes made by the white team, and at least half of them didn’t notice when a figure in a gorilla suit entered the frame. Hari Kunzru, Harper's Magazine, 22 June 2021 Gigante, San Jose’s orange-haired gorilla mascot, hugged a toddler and her parents behind home plate. Connor Letourneau, San Francisco Chronicle, 21 June 2021 No one can predict at this point how this will all play out, but investors would be wise to be very careful in trying to tame this gorilla. George Schultze, Forbes, 15 June 2021

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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Learn More About gorilla

Time Traveler for gorilla

Time Traveler

The first known use of gorilla was in 1832

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Statistics for gorilla

Last Updated

23 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Gorilla.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gorilla. Accessed 24 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for gorilla



English Language Learners Definition of gorilla

: a type of very large ape that has black fur and that comes from Africa
informal : a large, strong, and usually ugly or frightening man


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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