\ ˈzü How to pronounce zoo (audio) \
plural zoos

Definition of zoo

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a facility with usually indoor and outdoor settings where living, typically wild animals are kept especially for public exhibition

called also zooological garden, zoological park

2 : a place, situation, or group marked by crowding, confusion, or unrestrained behavior The convention was a zoo.
variants: or before a vowel zo-

Definition of zoo- (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : animal : animal kingdom or kind zooid zoology
2 : motile zoospore

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of zoo in a Sentence

Noun The sixth grade classroom was a zoo after recess. The supermarket was a real zoo on the night before the storm.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The primate exhibit at the zoo is amid a massive makeover, along with the polar bear and rhino exhibits. oregonlive, "Inji, one of world’s oldest orangutans, celebrates her 60th birthday at Oregon Zoo," 30 Jan. 2020 Rather than posting selfies with wombats at the zoo, players shared images of rescue workers cradling burned and thirsty animals, along with links for relief efforts. Louisa Thomas, The New Yorker, "Tennis Goes On at the Australian Open, Despite the Fires—This Time," 22 Jan. 2020 Image 1 of 18 Three rare white lion cubs born in November, one male and two females explore their enclosure at the zoo in Magdeburg, Germany, Jan. 15, 2020. Fox News, "The week in pictures, Jan. 11 - Jan. 17," 11 Jan. 2020 But a sloth has not been born at the zoo since 1984, and staff are eager for some babies. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian Magazine, "Will Love Bloom Between Two Sloths at the National Zoo?," 3 Jan. 2020 Then enjoy the Groundhog Day celebration at the zoo. Amy Schwabe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "50 things to do with your kids this winter around Milwaukee, from kites on ice to Disney on Ice," 27 Dec. 2019 Kasih, a baby orangutan, was born at the zoo in July. Rachel Herzog, Arkansas Online, "Little Rock Zoo welcomes baby gibbon," 16 Dec. 2019 The chicks are expected to go on exhibit at the zoo in the next few weeks. USA TODAY, "Operation Santa, missing Jesus, Future the rhino: News from around our 50 states," 12 Dec. 2019 Almost every caged animal at the zoo was mislabeled. Helen Sullivan, New York Times, "In Lebanon, the Hyena’s Main Fear Is Fear Itself," 30 Oct. 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of zoo


1835, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for zoo


short for zoological garden

Combining form

borrowed from Greek zōo-, zōio-, combining form from zôion "animal," derivative from the base of zṓō, zṓein (Homeric), zô, zên (Attic) "to be alive, live," going back to Indo-European *gwi̯éh3-(u)- "live" (whence also Tocharian B śāyau "[I] live"), full grade of a stem attested elsewhere with zero grade as *gwih3-u-, whence Latin vīvō, vīvere "to live," Old Church Slavic živǫ, žiti, Old Prussian giwa "(s/he) lives," Latvian dzīvu "(I) live," Sanskrit jīvati "(s/he) lives," Avestan juuaiti

Note: See also bio-, quick entry 1.

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about zoo

Statistics for zoo

Last Updated

7 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Zoo.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zoo. Accessed 16 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for zoo


How to pronounce zoo- (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of zoo

: a place where many kinds of animals are kept so that people can see them
informal : a place, situation, or group that is crowded, loud, and uncontrolled


\ ˈzü How to pronounce zoo (audio) \
plural zoos

Kids Definition of zoo

: a place where living usually wild animals are kept for showing to the public

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on zoo

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for zoo

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with zoo

Spanish Central: Translation of zoo

Nglish: Translation of zoo for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of zoo for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about zoo

Comments on zoo

What made you want to look up zoo? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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