koala

noun ko·ala \ kə-ˈwä-lə , kō-ˈä- \
Updated on: 9 Nov 2017

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

Recent Examples of koala from the Web

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.

Illustration of koala

Origin and Etymology of koala

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


KOALA Defined for English Language Learners

koala

noun

Definition of koala for English Language Learners

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


KOALA Defined for Kids

koala

noun ko·ala \ kō-ˈä-lə \

Definition of koala for Students

: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

History for koala

The word koala was taken from a language called Dharuk, spoken by the native Australian people who lived around what is today Sydney, Australia, when the first Europeans landed there in 1788. The word was first written koolah, which was probably closer to the way it was pronounced in Dharuk. The spelling koala—which came to be read as three syllables rather than two—may originally have been someone's misspelling of the word.



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