\ 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 Participants should meet at the zoo’s Centerville Schoolhouse. Mike Danahey, Chicago Tribune, 22 Sep. 2022 The proceeds from the program help fund various zoo efforts, including the Virginia Zoo's Conservation Fund. Amethyst Tate, Peoplemag, 21 Sep. 2022 The zoo has cared for 23 manatees over two decades through its work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP). Haadiza Ogwude, The Enquirer, 20 Sep. 2022 Now, the zoo produces thousands of eggs and tadpoles each year, many of them descendants of frogs rescued from wildfires including the devastating 2020 Bobcat fire, which charred 115,796 acres in the central San Gabriel Mountains. Los Angeles Times, 18 Sep. 2022 An examination by zoo pathologists found lesions in her gastrointestinal tract and respiratory system. Carlyn Kranking, Smithsonian Magazine, 16 Sep. 2022 The zoo cautioned visitors that the cubs will be adjusting to being in their new habitat, so not every visitor will immediately get to see them. Claire Rafford, The Indianapolis Star, 16 Sep. 2022 Trick-or-Treat Fest will have timed ticketing and tickets are limited, so the zoo is encouraging visitors to purchase tickets in advance. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, 12 Sep. 2022 Hosted by zoo staffers Rick Schwartz and Ebone Monet, the podcasts are a production of iHeartRadio and the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, and can be downloaded on the iHeartRadio App, Apple Podcasts or other podcast platforms. Karen Kucher, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 Sep. 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

25 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Zoo.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zoo. Accessed 30 Sep. 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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