sim·​i·​an | \ ˈsi-mē-ən How to pronounce simian (audio) \

Definition of simian

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of, relating to, or resembling monkeys or apes



Definition of simian (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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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.

Examples of simian in a Sentence

Adjective a study of simian viruses
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective 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 And the hotel’s corner tower bears its own share of bizarre, simian-like faces sticking out their tongues. San Antonio Express-News, 28 Mar. 2020 The vaccine also protected 67 percent of rhesus monkeys exposed to a simian virus similar to HIV, according to the researchers. Mark Barna, Discover Magazine, 1 Jan. 2019 Animals, especially simian ones, were historically racialized in popular culture to dehumanize black people. Nadra Nittle, Vox, 14 Dec. 2018 Suotamo removes that old shuffle, and lends a loping simian gait and fresh physicality that adds more variety and expression. Christopher Borrelli,, 24 May 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 The simian examined the page briefly, then meandered a few feet to check out several small boys crowding the glass for a closer look., 6 Oct. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of simian


1607, in the meaning defined above


1861, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for simian


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

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Dictionary Entries Near simian



simian immunodeficiency virus

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Cite this Entry

“Simian.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of simian

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of or relating to monkeys or apes
: like a monkey or ape



English Language Learners Definition of simian (Entry 2 of 2)

: a monkey or ape


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