1 of 2


sim·​i·​an ˈsi-mē-ən How to pronounce simian (audio)
: of, relating to, or resembling monkeys or apes


2 of 2


: monkey, ape
also : any of a suborder (Anthropoidea) of primates that includes monkeys, apes, and humans

Did you know?

The Latin word for "ape" is simia, which itself comes from simus, "snub-nosed". Simian is usually a scientific word; thus, for instance, biologists study simian viruses in the search for cures to AIDS and other diseases. But simian can be used by the rest of us to describe human behavior. Human babies often cling to their mothers in a simian way, and kids playing on a jungle gym may look like simians. But if you notice that a friend has a simian style of walking or eating bananas, it might be best not to tell him.

Example Sentences

Adjective a study of simian viruses
Recent Examples on the Web
Del Toro’s also rounded up a top-notch voice cast including Cate Blanchett as Volpe’s simian assistant Spazzatura and Finn Wolfhard as Podesta’s bullying son Candlewick. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 9 Dec. 2022 Played by simian performer Allie, occasionally enhanced with CGI effects, Gigi’s expressive face is impish and empathetic in equal measure. Lisa Kennedy, Variety, 1 Sep. 2022 According to the simian market hypothesis, figuring out what stocks are worth is monkey business. Jason Zweig, WSJ, 26 Aug. 2022 This connection is driven home by a few horrifying if discreetly framed flashbacks to an old ’90s family sitcom whose chimpanzee star, Gordy, would appear to have been at least partially inspired by a real-life simian celebrity named Travis. Justin Changfilm Critic, Los Angeles Times, 20 July 2022 While sitting down with EW to reminisce for the 40th anniversary of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Allen opened up about her simian costar. Maureen Lee Lenker,, 11 June 2021 Albert died of suffocation during his flight, and a number of his simian brethren also sacrificed their lives to the cause in the ensuing years. Mike Wall, Scientific American, 29 Jan. 2013 From 1955 to 1963, between 10% and 30% of polio vaccines were contaminated with simian virus 40 (SV40). Jen Christensen, CNN, 1 Sep. 2020 Finally, the sound of wooden cowbells announced the reason for the simian commotion. Peter Terzian, Travel + Leisure, 18 Apr. 2020
Jupe carefully reaches toward Gordy, but before their fingers connect, the simian is gunned down from behind. Los Angeles Times, 22 July 2022 On humanity’s side, at least, is Kong’s relationship with tiny human child Jia (Kaylee Hottle), who hopefully can communicate with the gigantic simian from a safe distance during this whole escapade. Halle Kiefer, Vulture, 24 Jan. 2021 Want to experience the end of the world, an attack from outer space, a war to the death between superheroes, or a contagious disease that puts our simian cousins in control of the planet? Damon Linker, TheWeek, 13 Mar. 2020 Tough but temporary, the simian intervention reminds us of our physical impermanence and the beauty of everyday materials. Kim Tan,, 9 Feb. 2020 Villagers in India being terrorized by more than 2,000 wild monkeys claim to have found an unconventional way to tackle the simian menace – by dressing up as bears. Fox News, 30 Jan. 2020 An astronaut and his team crash on a world ruled by intelligent, talking simians who treat humans like animals. Los Angeles Times, 22 Sep. 2019 The most the officers could do, Singh said, was to allow villagers to catch the monkeys themselves and help them release the bothersome simians into the wild elsewhere. Fox News, 30 Jan. 2020 An astronaut and his team crash on a world ruled by intelligent, talking simians who treat humans like animals. Los Angeles Times, 22 Sep. 2019 See More

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

Word History



Latin simia ape, from simus snub-nosed, from Greek simos

First Known Use


1607, in the meaning defined above


1861, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of simian was in 1607

Dictionary Entries Near simian

Cite this Entry

“Simian.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
sim·​i·​an ˈsim-ē-ən How to pronounce simian (audio)
: of, relating to, or resembling monkeys or apes
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
Name That Thing

You know what it looks like… but what is it called?

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?