noun go·ril·la \ gə-ˈri-lə \
|Updated on: 20 Aug 2018

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
2 a : an ugly or brutal man
b : thug, goon

Examples of gorilla in a Sentence

  1. She hired some gorilla as her bodyguard.

  2. the loan shark sent a couple of gorillas to “convince” him to pay up

Recent Examples of gorilla from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of gorilla

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

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.

GORILLA Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of gorilla for English Language Learners

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

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

GORILLA Defined for Kids


noun go·ril·la \ gə-ˈri-lə \

Definition of gorilla for Students

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

History for gorilla

In the sixth century b.c. the navigator Hanno, from the city of Carthage, made a trip around the west coast of Africa. An account of his journey disappeared, though a Greek translation survives. Near the furthest point on their voyage Hanno and his men came upon an island “full of wild people, the greater part of whom were females, hairy on their bodies, whom our interpreters called Gorillas.” When the great ape we know as the gorilla was first described by scientists in the 1800s, it was given the Latin name Gorilla gorilla in recollection of Hanno's description—though exactly what Hanno saw in Africa we will never know.

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fullness to the point of excess

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