ko·​ala | \kə-ˈwä-lə, kō-ˈä-\

Definition of koala 

: an Australian arboreal marsupial (Phascolarctos cinereus) that has a broad head, large hairy ears, dense gray fur, and sharp claws and feeds on eucalyptus leaves

called also koala bear

Illustration of koala

Illustration of koala

Examples of koala in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The main problem with the San Diego Zoo’s livestream is the two camera angles: One is too far away, and the other is closer but often facing the koala’s back. The Editors, Outside Online, "The Definitive Ranking of the Best Animal Livestreams," 14 June 2018 The zoo, of course, provides a detailed understanding of koala biology and behavior. Bradley J. Fikes, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Quincy the San Diego Zoo's diabetic koala, gets help from Dexcom," 25 June 2018 At 550 acres, the Temecula resort is — holy koala! — more than five times the size of the San Diego Zoo. Michele Parente, sandiegouniontribune.com, "24 hours at Pechanga: Gambling, eating, pampering and yoga," 29 Apr. 2018 Current studies predict koala populations could drop dramatically — as much as 50 per cent in the next 20 years in Queensland alone. Stephanie Bedo, Fox News, "The secrets that could save koalas," 4 July 2018 All these precautions help koalas get the most bang for the bite of food, which is important because eucalyptus leaves are not very high in calories. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "A koala’s diet would kill most mammals. Their genome reveals how they survive," 2 July 2018 The koala challenges the kangaroo as the most iconic Australian marsupial. Joel Achenbach, Washington Post, "Koala genome shows how the adorable marsupial lives on eucalyptus leaves," 2 July 2018 Many zoos have attracted crowds by keeping rare white animals, including Snowflake the gorilla at the Barcelona Zoo and Onya-Birri, an albino koala, at the San Diego Zoo. Samantha Drake, chicagotribune.com, "Albino animals are at such risk that people built an island to protect one orangutan," 11 May 2018 In the video, Terri, Bindi and Robert Irwin talk about the Chlamydia plaguing koalas and give a shout out to Crowe and (indirectly) Oliver for their funds to battle the outbreak. Erin Jensen, USA TODAY, "John Oliver battles koala chlamydia, answers 'What happened to Rudy Giuliani?' in one show," 7 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'koala.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of koala

1802, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for koala

Dharuk (Australian aboriginal language of the Port Jackson area) gula, gulawanʸ

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about koala

Dictionary Entries near koala


koa finch

koa haole





Statistics for koala

Last Updated

12 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for koala

The first known use of koala was in 1802

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for koala



English Language Learners Definition of koala

: an Australian animal that has thick gray fur, large hairy ears, sharp claws for climbing, and no tail


ko·​ala | \kō-ˈä-lə \

Kids Definition of koala

: a tailless Australian animal with thick fur and big hairy ears, sharp claws for climbing, and a pouch like the kangaroo's for carrying its young

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on koala

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


to express warning or disapproval

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!