\ 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 They were supposed to mate, but, when a guy from the zoo came to collect them, it was discovered that Toby’s father had been harboring two males—imagine his peeve. Han Ong, The New Yorker, "Futures," 23 Mar. 2020 The group, called the Nonhuman Rights Project, sought Happy's release from the zoo, where she's lived for nearly 50 years. Aaron Katersky, ABC News, "Siding with Bronx Zoo, judge rules Happy the elephant is not a person," 19 Feb. 2020 The median life expectancy for this species is 16 years, according to the zoo officials. Mike Cruz, azcentral, "Malayan tiger Baheem dies after declining health at Reid Park Zoo in Tucson," 1 Feb. 2020 His artificial conception took zoo officials seven years of work. Sarah Ladd, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville Zoo launches plan to keep the elephants available in any type of weather," 20 Dec. 2019 Construction was expected to start this year, zoo officials told the Free Press in June 2018. Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Zoo's Great Lakes Nature Center getting bigger, more expensive; but no site yet," 19 Dec. 2019 Marilyn arrived at Memphis Zoo in 2002 and gave birth to six calves, according to a Facebook post from the zoo. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, "Memphis Zoo’s Oldest Giraffe Dies at Nearly 26," 31 Oct. 2019 His daughter Holly, who now owns the restaurant, could be found in those days around the property with her pet black bear, Sissy, who was adopted from the zoo. Josie Sexton, The Know, "Colorado’s 13 most iconic, historic restaurants and what to order when you’re there," 23 Oct. 2019 The chick’s gender is not yet known, zoo officials said Thursday. Kristi Belcamino, Twin Cities, "Como Zoo celebrates a bouncing baby puffin, its first," 15 Aug. 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.

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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

3 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Zoo.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zoo. Accessed 5 Apr. 2020.

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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

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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

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