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

Illustration of orangutan

Illustration of orangutan

Examples of orangutan in a Sentence

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Now, NPR’s Merrit Kennedy reports, the island of Borneo is home to just 70,000 to 100,000 orangutans. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Borneo’s Orangutan Population Plummeted by Half in 16 Years," 17 Feb. 2018 Participants will meet in Jakarta, Indonesia, followed by immersion in the wild that includes paddling canoes into the Bornean swamp, home to proboscis monkeys and orangutans. Anne Harnagel, latimes.com, "Women-only Borneo tour includes viewing orangutans and komodo dragons," 9 July 2018 The gorillas behind the glass are plucking their hair, and the orangutans are incessantly masturbating. David Scharfenberg, BostonGlobe.com, "Did humans drive this polar bear insane?," 13 July 2018 An annual physical exam of Mei found the 33-year-old orangutan had a very large tumor that was pushing on her organs. Chabeli Herrera, miamiherald, "Monkey Jungle has reopened. Here is what has happened since the animal-abuse allegations.," 12 July 2018 Moreover, all three species—humans, chimps and bonobos—are more closely related to one another than to gorillas or orangutans. David Barash, WSJ, "‘The New Chimpanzee’ Review: Mysteries of the Chimpanzees," 9 Mar. 2018 About 674,000 years ago, orangutans on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo split into separate species. Sean Greene, latimes.com, "A rare great ape, a 130-foot-tall tree and an extinct marsupial lion make the Top 10 New Species list for 2018," 23 May 2018 The males are under 5 feet in height, and the females are under 4 feet, which is similar to other orangutans. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Meet the top 10 new species of 2018," 23 May 2018 The sanctuary, where Alba will live with three other orangutans starting in June, will be patrolled around the clock by security guards. Samantha Drake, chicagotribune.com, "Albino animals are at such risk that people built an island to protect one orangutan," 11 May 2018

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.

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First Known Use of orangutan

1691, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for orangutan

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

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Orang Laut





Statistics for orangutan

Last Updated

20 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for orangutan

The first known use of orangutan was in 1691

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English Language Learners Definition of orangutan

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


orang·​utan | \ə-ˈraŋ-ə-ˌtaŋ, -ˌtan\

Kids Definition of orangutan

: 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

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