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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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.

Examples of simian in a Sentence


a study of simian viruses

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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, "State of Science: A New Weapon Against HIV," 1 Jan. 2019 Animals, especially simian ones, were historically racialized in popular culture to dehumanize black people. Nadra Nittle, Vox, "Prada pulled a collection of figurines that drew comparisons to anti-black caricatures," 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,, "What lurks underneath 'Star Wars'' new Chewbacca? A 7-foot-3-inch former basketball player from Finland," 24 May 2018 Humanity has been decimated by a simian virus and may not survive. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ Review: Evolving Deep Feelings and High Drama," 13 July 2017 And one King Kong or another has met his demise simply because a woman—a winsome Fay Wray, a foxy-sweet Jessica Lange—has captured his simian heart. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "The Shape of Water," 31 Aug. 2017 Still, even those giraffe characters don’t have species-specific traits—nothing like Babar’s regal bearing or George’s simian curiosity. Alex Shoumatoff, Smithsonian, "To Save Giraffes, We May Need to Put Our Necks Out," 29 Mar. 2017 For the effects company responsible for the simian half of the battle, Weta Digital, the stakes felt nearly as high. Tim Grierson, Popular Mechanics, "How 'War for the Planet of the Apes' Was Made," 13 July 2017 Picking up 15 years after the outbreak of the population-decimating simian flu, the film feels like a primate hybrid of The Searchers, The Great Escape, and Apocalypse Now (with lone human movie star, Woody Harrelson, in the gonzo Kurtz role). Chris Nashawaty,, "War for the Planet of the Apes," 14 July 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In 2029 an astronaut leads a human uprising against a military leader and his army of ruling simians. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week Sept. 1 - 7, 2019: John Wayne in ‘The Searchers’ and more," 30 Aug. 2019 Caesar the ape leads simians in revolt against the governor enslaving them on future Earth. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week Sept. 1 - 7, 2019: John Wayne in ‘The Searchers’ and more," 30 Aug. 2019 An astronaut and his team crash on a world ruled by intelligent, talking simians who treat humans like animals. Los Angeles Times, "Here are the feature and TV films airing the week of Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019," 11 Aug. 2019 After quenching its thirst, the smart simian proves its green credentials by turning off the tap. Fox News, "Environmentally-friendly monkey goes viral," 6 Aug. 2019 These were the same preventative measures Philadelphia police took to keep wannabe simians from recklessly scaling anything and everything after the Eagles’ Super Bowl triumph. Nick Moyle, San Antonio Express-News, "Villanova romps to third title," 2 Apr. 2018 If that were true, every simian mugging at his own smartphone could call himself an artist. San Francisco Chronicle, "Last Word: Of monkeys and men," 27 Apr. 2018 Her cast, human and simian, is compelling, particularly her heroine, who rebounds from one cruel blow after another. The Economist, "Into the storm, with a band of bonobos," 19 Apr. 2018 Stereotypes about the Irish, often depicted as having simian features, were common at the time. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "My Epiphany About the Problem With Apu," 14 Apr. 2018

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


1880, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for simian


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

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The first known use of simian was in 1607

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English Language Learners Definition of simian

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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



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

technical : a monkey or ape

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with simian

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suitable to be imparted to the public

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