1 of 2


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

called also zoological garden, zoological park

: a place, situation, or group marked by crowding, confusion, or unrestrained behavior
The convention was a zoo.


2 of 2

combining form

variants or before a vowel zo-
: animal : animal kingdom or kind
: motile

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
Some of this year’s attractions includes lights installations, a northern holiday frontier trail, a Santa Claus factory, holiday a cappella quartet performances and Aurora, the zoo’s 3D projection mapping, music and lights performance. Carlos Rico, San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 Nov. 2023 Advertisement Once cleared from the zoo’s intensive care unit, doctors will hold them until the California Department of Fish and Wildlife identifies a long-term home for the cubs, either another zoo or a sanctuary. Anthony De Leon, Los Angeles Times, 18 Nov. 2023 However, in the film, their characters are somewhat combined as Lucky also interviews the tributes at the zoo. Kelsie Gibson, Peoplemag, 17 Nov. 2023 Originally on a ten-year lease from the Chinese government for $1 million a year, but now China isn't renewing the lease and the pandas at other U.S. zoos have already been returned or will return next year. ABC News, 12 Nov. 2023 The female epaulette shark was never housed with a male shark but produced a fertile egg without the need for a male, the zoo said in a news release. Caitlin O'Kane, CBS News, 9 Nov. 2023 What the zoo will no longer have, as of Wednesday, are the giant pandas themselves. Edward Wong Erin Schaff, New York Times, 8 Nov. 2023 The zoo in San Diego sent its giant pandas to China four years ago. William Wan, Washington Post, 8 Nov. 2023 Ahead of the pandas' farewell to the zoo, the Smithsonian said in a news release that forklifts will be used to move each of them into FedEx trucks. Caitlin O'Kane, CBS News, 8 Nov. 2023 See More

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

Word History



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.

First Known Use


1835, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of zoo was in 1835

Dictionary Entries Near zoo

Cite this Entry

“Zoo.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zoo. Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


plural zoos
: a garden or park where living usually wild animals are kept for showing to the public

More from Merriam-Webster on zoo

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