[ guh-ril-uh ]
See synonyms for: gorillagorillalike on Thesaurus.com

  1. a terrestrial, largely vegetarian great ape of the genus Gorilla, inhabiting central African forests: possessing great upper body strength, with arms longer and more muscular than its legs, it is noted for its knuckle-walking and is larger than any other living primate.: See also Cross River gorilla, eastern gorilla, eastern lowland gorilla, mountain gorilla, western gorilla, western lowland gorilla.

  2. an ugly, brutish person.

  1. Slang. a hoodlum or thug, especially one who threatens or inflicts violence: Like any mob boss, he sent his gorillas to do the dirty work.

  2. Disparaging and Offensive. (used as a slur against a member of a racial or ethnic minority group, especially a Black person.)

Origin of gorilla

First recorded in 1845–50; from New Latin, from Greek Goríllās (accusative plural) name for the females of a hairy tribe encountered in an account of a voyage along the coast of Africa made by the Carthaginian Hanno in the 5th century b.c.

usage note For gorilla

Other words from gorilla

  • go·ril·la·like, adjective
  • go·ril·li·an, adjective
  • go·ril·line [guh-ril-ahyn, -in], /gəˈrɪl aɪn, -ɪn/, adjective
  • go·ril·loid, adjective

Words that may be confused with gorilla

Words Nearby gorilla

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use gorilla in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for gorilla


/ (ɡəˈrɪlə) /

  1. the largest anthropoid ape, Gorilla gorilla, inhabiting the forests of central W Africa. It is stocky and massive, with a short muzzle and coarse dark hair

  2. informal a large, strong, and brutal-looking man

Origin of gorilla

C19: New Latin, from Greek Gorillai, an African tribe renowned for their hirsute appearance

Derived forms of gorilla

  • gorilla-like, adjective
  • gorillian or gorilline (ɡəˈrɪlaɪn), adjective
  • gorilloid, adjective

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012