\ 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

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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 According to zoo officials, Inji is believed to be the world’s oldest orangutan. oregonlive, "Oregon Zoo euthanized Inji, perhaps the world’s oldest orangutan," 10 Jan. 2021 Asha’s surgery, which zoo officials said was lifesaving, meant the mother and daughter did not bond normally. Darcie Moran, Detroit Free Press, "Lion cub born at Detroit Zoo for the first time in 40 years," 24 Dec. 2020 The three cubs will take their first flight with zoo officials to Indianapolis, then will travel to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Los Angeles Times, "Cougar cubs, raccoons, kitty cats. After rehab, animals hurt by fires find new homes," 21 Nov. 2020 The nutria, named Parish, crawled out of her den at the zoo early Tuesday morning and did not see her shadow, her caretakers said. Carlie Wells, NOLA.com, "Did nutria at Audubon Zoo see her shadow on Groundhog Day? Watch video," 2 Feb. 2021 With the role of alpha at the zoo now vacant after the departure of her parents, Tulio and Tazanna, Jade quickly picked up the mantle. Anton L. Delgado, The Arizona Republic, "Phoenix Zoo sends Mexican gray wolves packing as officials survey imperiled species," 2 Feb. 2021 Lucky visitors might spot a recent arrival: Marinara, the first macaroni-penguin chick to hatch at the zoo. The New Yorker, "A Raft of Penguins at the Central Park Zoo," 15 Jan. 2021 Annabelle, Oley and Tuffy were the zoo’s first stars. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, "How a 1960s publicity stunt landed a baby elephant named Annabelle in Alaska," 7 Dec. 2020 With more than 400 animals to care for and feed weekly, Mitchell said his organization will step up fundraising efforts and become creative in finding ways to generate revenue during the zoo’s winter closure. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Military Thanksgiving, Kauai quarantine, holiday cheer curtailed: News from around our 50 states," 30 Nov. 2020

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.

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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.

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Statistics for zoo

Last Updated

21 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Zoo.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zoo. Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for zoo



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

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Comments on zoo

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