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
Guests are invited to gather at the historic Amphitheatre to witness the darkness of the eclipse and the sounds of the zoo. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. April 8 at the Toledo Zoo, 2 Hippo Way in Toledo, Ohio. Brendel Hightower, Detroit Free Press, 4 Apr. 2024 Jameela arrived safely at her new home in late March, the zoo announced March 28. Harriet Ramos, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 3 Apr. 2024 The zoo’s owner says Tadori has been lonely since his mate died. Stephen Sorace, Fox News, 27 Mar. 2024 After the ostrich left the park, the zoo contacted firefighters and police for help wrangling the bird. Kelli Bender, Peoplemag, 27 Mar. 2024 Strep zoo respiratory disease attacks lung function, often causing the organ to bleed and fluid to collect in the surrounding areas, the study said. The Arizona Republic, 26 Mar. 2024 Children under 2 as well as zoo members get in free. Brianna Taylor, Sacramento Bee, 22 Mar. 2024 Not long after, another female chimp with even more intractable health problems gave birth at the zoo. Alex Traub, New York Times, 20 Mar. 2024 This year features a scavenger hunt in the zoo’s Great Meadow from 10 a.m. to noon, with 15 stations introducing children to scientists and resident animals. Chris Kelly, Washington Post, 28 Mar. 2024

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 13 Apr. 2024.

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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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