Definition of gorilla in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɡəˈrilə/


Image of gorilla
1A powerfully built great ape with a large head and short neck, found in the forests of central Africa. It is the largest living primate.
  • Gorilla gorilla, family Pongidae: three races (two lowland gorillas and the mountain gorilla).
Example sentences
  • One of the most endangered species in the world and the largest living primate, the lowland gorilla originates from the tropical rain forests of equatorial Africa, particularly the Congo and Cameroon.
  • These include the Sumatran orangutan of Indonesia, the mountain gorilla of Africa, and northern muriqui of Brazil.
  • Mayor just returned from tracking the western lowland gorilla in Central African Republic, the subject of an EXPLORER program that will premiere early next year.
1.1 informal A heavily built, aggressive-looking man.
Example sentences
  • Here's a great idea...we'll team an attractive, smart, considerate wife with a fat, obnoxious, gorilla of a husband... people will never see this coming!
  • Robin’s new boss is a gorilla.
1.2 [with modifier] A dominant contender within a particular sphere of operation or activity: the 800-lb gorilla of the home mortgage industry
More example sentences
  • Anyone who tries confronts Gemstar-TV Guide, the undisputed gorilla of the IPG space.
  • That company was definitely the 800-pound gorilla in the industry.
  • Ford, on the other hand, is the proverbial 800-pound gorilla, says Hazel.


From an alleged African word for a wild or hairy person, found in the Greek account of the voyage of the Carthaginian explorer Hanno in the 5th or 6th century bc; adopted in 1847 as the specific name of the ape.

  • In the 5th or 6th centuries bc the Carthaginian explorer Hanno wrote an account of his voyage along the northwest coast of Africa. In the Greek translation of Hanno's account there appears a supposedly African word gorillai, the name of a wild or hairy people. This was adopted in 1847 by the US missionary Thomas Savage as the name of the large ape. See also guerrilla

Words that rhyme with gorilla

Anguilla, Aquila, Attila, Camilla, cedilla, chiller, chinchilla, driller, Drusilla, fibrillar, filler, flotilla, fulfiller, Godzilla, griller, guerrilla, killer, Manila, manilla, mantilla, miller, pillar, Priscilla, sapodilla, sarsaparilla, Schiller, scilla, scintilla, spiller, swiller, thriller, tiller, vanilla, vexilla, villa, Willa, willer, zorilla

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: go·ril·la

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