\ 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

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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 Once a performing animal, Cobby was raised by people and brought to the zoo in the mid-1960s. NBC News, 6 June 2021 Some pieces were said to have been melted down to become bronze bunnies for the zoo. Sigrid Macrae, Harper's Magazine, 16 Mar. 2021 Audubon's Community Connect Program offers year-round access for Orleans Parish residents; the next days for free admission are Dec. 3 for the aquarium and Dec. 16 for the zoo. Staff Reports, NOLA.com, 9 Dec. 2020 That led to questions for the zoo related to its Elephant Reserve. Cole Behrens, The Enquirer, 7 July 2020 GE Additive is making two more tree trunks for the zoo, though the six meerkats will not be the only recipients. Sarah Haselhorst, Cincinnati.com, 8 June 2020 Eko came to the zoo from the Oklahoma City Zoo and Diburu is from San Diego Safari Park. Megan Becka, cleveland, 18 May 2021 Matea came to the zoo in 2017 from the Cleveland Zoo, and the baby howler’s father came from the San Antonio Zoo. Lee Roop | Lroop@al.com, al, 15 May 2021 Unlike other beloved public spaces, the park’s original 527 acres have been whittled away over the years, losing 112 acres to a golf course and 72 acres to the zoo. BostonGlobe.com, 12 May 2021

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

9 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Zoo.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zoo. Accessed 14 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for zoo



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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