\ 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 zoological 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

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 virtual memberships are $25 a year, according to a news release from the zoo. Emily Deletter, The Enquirer, 6 June 2022 To Prokofiev’s ornithological menagerie, which includes a little bird and a duck, Mizrahi has added an ostrich on the lam from the local zoo. The New Yorker, 27 May 2022 The stripped baby weighs 71 pounds, according to the news release from the zoo, and was born just before midnight Thursday. Ana Rocío Álvarez Bríñez, The Courier-Journal, 18 May 2022 The duo were born at a zoo in Brownsville, Texas, but have spent the past 12 years at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida. Scott D. Pierce, The Salt Lake Tribune, 13 May 2022 According to a release from the Boston zoo, the seven prairie dog pups were born around March 20. Stephanie Wenger, PEOPLE.com, 13 May 2022 One report says that part of the island resembled a zoo, with peacocks strutting colorfully around the grounds. Rob Goss, Smithsonian Magazine, 13 May 2022 An animal caretaker took a heroic dive into a pool to save a drowning antelope at a Guatemala zoo. Zulekha Nathoo, USA TODAY, 12 May 2022 When a shell landed on a nearby private zoo that housed exotic animals, Serpinska watched in horror as flames engulfed the building. Washington Post, 26 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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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Last Updated

9 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Zoo.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zoo. Accessed 2 Jul. 2022.

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More Definitions for zoo


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on zoo

Nglish: Translation of zoo for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of zoo for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about zoo


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