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


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: 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.

Examples of simian in a Sentence

Adjective a study of simian viruses
Recent Examples on the Web
Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, the latest extension of Hollywood’s mighty simian franchise, moves us still further into an age — a distant future — in which the human tide has receded and the monkey has continued its advance. Tom Gliatto, Peoplemag, 10 May 2024 The supreme irony is that an actor burdened by technology ended up blessing an entire trilogy about simian supremacy with a sense of humanity. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 8 May 2024 An underdog in a society divided by caste and class, Kid mirrors the simian god in more ways than one. Harmeet Kaur, CNN, 15 Apr. 2024 Then the figure pulls out that simian mask, slips it on and puts up his dukes. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 7 Apr. 2024 One found that a modification to the simian version of HIV spurred production of what are known as broadly neutralizing antibodies against the virus in monkeys. Benjamin Ryan, NBC News, 6 Mar. 2024 As for the concerns about simian virus 40, the COVID vaccines do not contain SV40 proteins or any genetic material encoding them. Tanya Lewis, Scientific American, 4 Jan. 2024 Waze, on the other hand, is a clear and present danger to every pedestrian, equestrian, simian and median on the planet. Brian Merchant, Los Angeles Times, 27 Dec. 2023 Brandy fixes her gaze on the mirror while repeating a series of unusual gestures, apparently mesmerized by the simian mimic who can anticipate her every move. Karen Wright, Discover Magazine, 11 Nov. 2019
Even Pierre Boulle, who wrote the novel upon which the 1968 film was based, never imagined a future this long, complicated, or full of talking simians. Todd Gilchrist, Variety, 10 May 2024 But the one thing Cooper was never able to do was come to the office and at Chewy, all the pets come to the office, including simians. Fortune Editors, Fortune, 17 Apr. 2024 He’s known for a wearing a monkey mask in the ring, which doubles as a tribute to Hanuman, the Hindu deity who once led an army of simians against the ancient forced of evil. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 12 Mar. 2024 The conflict between man and simian is renewed in the first trailer for 20th Century Studios‘ Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes. Ryan Gajewski, The Hollywood Reporter, 2 Nov. 2023 Legendary special makeup effects artist Rick Baker created a Kong suit and played the titular simian in the majority of Dino de Laurentus’ 1976 feature King Kong. Carolyn Giardina, The Hollywood Reporter, 1 Sep. 2023 On his own, this legendary superhero has consistently defeated boomerang-throwing bad guys, temperature-dropping supervillains, his own negative-image doppelgänger, and the toughest alpha simian in Gorilla City. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 6 June 2023 Played as an arrogant idiot prince, Rogen’s instantly identifiable stoner giggle sandbags the simian’s bravado in wry fashion. Christopher Cruz, Rolling Stone, 4 Apr. 2023 But half a mile from camp, a peculiar howling echoed through the forest—almost, but not exactly, like that of a spider monkey, the largest simian in the jungle and an excellent source of meat. Larry Rohter, Smithsonian Magazine, 3 Apr. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'simian.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 21 May. 2024.

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
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