orangutan

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noun orang·u·tan \ ə-ˈraŋ-ə-ˌtaŋ , -ˈraŋ-gə- , -ˌtan \

Definition of orangutan

:a largely herbivorous arboreal anthropoid ape (Pongo pygmaeus) of Borneo and Sumatra that is about ²/₃ as large as the gorilla and has brown skin, long sparse reddish-brown hair, and very long arms

Recent Examples of orangutan from the Web

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

Illustration of orangutan

Origin and Etymology of orangutan

Bazaar Malay (Malay-based pidgin), from Malay orang man + hutan forest


ORANGUTAN Defined for English Language Learners

orangutan

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noun

Definition of orangutan for English Language Learners

  • : a large ape that has very long arms and reddish-brown hair


ORANGUTAN Defined for Kids

orangutan

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noun orang·utan \ ə-ˈraŋ-ə-ˌtaŋ , -ˌtan \

Definition of orangutan for Students

:a large ape of Borneo and Sumatra that lives in trees, eats mostly fruit, leaves, and other plant matter, and has very long arms, long reddish brown hair, and a nearly hairless face

History for orangutan

Orangutans live in dense tropical forests on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, part of Indonesia. Like most apes they look a bit like humans. In a language called Malay, spoken by many people of Indonesia as a second language, the apes were given a name formed from Malay orang, “man,” and hutan, “forest”—in other words, “man of the forest.” Europeans visiting the islands adopted the word orangutan, and it found its way into English.



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