orang·​u·​tan ə-ˈraŋ-ə-ˌtaŋ How to pronounce orangutan (audio)
-ˌtan How to pronounce orangutan (audio)
: 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

Illustration of orangutan

Illustration of orangutan

Examples of orangutan in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web For the first time, scientists observed an orangutan, a primate, in the wild treating a wound with a plant that has medicinal properties. Emily Anthes, New York Times, 12 May 2024 Caesar, the ape revolutionary who led the chimps, gorillas, orangutans, bonobos, and gibbons to dominance in the reboot trilogy, is long dead by the time Kingdom’s action begins. James Grebey, TIME, 10 May 2024 This week, an analysis of the orangutan’s behavior was published in the journal Scientific Reports. Christian Thorsberg, Smithsonian Magazine, 3 May 2024 But when her father rescues a baby orangutan, Kéria begins to reconnect to her Indigenous roots, as well as her Penan cousin Selaï. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, 19 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for orangutan 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'orangutan.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1691, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of orangutan was in 1691

Dictionary Entries Near orangutan

Cite this Entry

“Orangutan.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/orangutan. Accessed 13 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a large anthropoid ape of Borneo and Sumatra that is about ⅔ as large as a gorilla, eats mostly plants, lives in trees, and has very long arms, long thin reddish brown hair, and a nearly hairless face

More from Merriam-Webster on orangutan

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