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

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Illustration of orangutan

Examples of orangutan in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Infrared cameras can help: Dr. Wich had been using them for decades to study orangutans. New York Times, "How Do You Count Endangered Species? Look to the Stars," 5 Apr. 2018 Hannover’s other two orangutans moved last year to the Fort Worth Zoo in Texas. Janet Mcconnaughey, The Seattle Times, "German zoo sends its last orangutan to Louisiana," 10 Sep. 2018 Female orangutans rarely live past the age of 50, and in 2016, she was recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest verified living Sumatran orangutan in the world. Casey Quackenbush, Time, "The World's Oldest Known Sumatran Orangutan Has Died at Age 62," 19 June 2018 The little orangutan is learning to climb, and the giant panda took a dip. Dana Hedgpeth, Washington Post, "A toddler orangutan learns to climb and a giant panda takes a pool dip," 1 May 2018 The region's orangutans live exclusively on Sumatra and Borneo. Deutsche Welle, USA TODAY, "100,000 orangutans killed in last 16 years, making extinction 'highly likely'," 16 Feb. 2018 Meanwhile, the orangutans tested were able to complete the fishhook easily. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Orangutans Are Better Than Children at Making Tools, Study Finds," 12 Nov. 2018 The species belongs to the same biological family as humans, called Hominoidea, alongside chimpanzees and orangutans. Hannah Rodriguez, The Seattle Times, "New ape in town: Kwame makes rare alpha-male debut at Woodland Park Zoo," 9 Nov. 2018 Powell also points to a lack of good data on great apes, like gorillas and orangutans, in the data set. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "The evolutionary mystery of gigantic human brains," 23 Aug. 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





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Last Updated

13 Jan 2019

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on orangutan

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with orangutan

Spanish Central: Translation of orangutan

Nglish: Translation of orangutan for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about orangutan

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