\ 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 While play dates, going to the movies, the zoo or a museum are verboten right now, there are some high-tech options like enjoying a virtual visit to one of the world’s great museums. cleveland, "Libraries, churches, public buildings, events are impacted by coronavirus pandemic: West Shore Chatter," 17 Mar. 2020 All public programs scheduled at the zoo and the aquarium through March 20 are canceled. Jeremy Hallock, Dallas News, "Dallas Zoo closes to public for at least one week," 13 Mar. 2020 Popular with everyone from families, to seniors, and couples, the town’s wide stretch of beachfront, which has 17 points of entry, never feels like a zoo, and maybe best of all, street parking is free. Betsy Blumenthal, Condé Nast Traveler, "15 Best Beaches in New Jersey for When You Need to Escape the City," 10 Mar. 2020 Attorneys for Mega Cavern are alleging that the zoo and various engineering consultants are to blame for the sinkhole. Billy Kobin, The Courier-Journal, "Mega Cavern files lawsuit against Louisville Zoo over massive sinkhole," 7 Mar. 2020 Patricia Yollin loved writing newspaper stories, talking to strangers, visiting zoos and hanging out with animals, especially hippopotamuses. Steve Rubenstein, SFChronicle.com, "Patricia Yollin, former Chronicle staff writer, dies at 69," 28 Feb. 2020 The male and female cubs were born to 3-year-old Izzy at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on Wednesday, the zoo said in a statement. USA TODAY, "In vitro cheetahs, Devils Tower, ‘SMART Marina’: News from around our 50 states," 26 Feb. 2020 Along with a public golf course, Franklin Park includes a popular zoo and an athletic stadium used by high school football and soccer teams. Stephanie Purifoy, BostonGlobe.com, "Franklin Park master plan meeting draws a crowd," 29 Jan. 2020 Trips to amusement parks and zoos were the least common activities on the list. Harmeet Kaur, CNN, "More Americans went to the library last year than to the movies, a new Gallup poll finds," 28 Jan. 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

20 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

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