• synonyms


[aw-rang-oo-tan, oh-rang-, uh-rang-]
  1. a large, long-armed anthropoid ape, Pongo pygmaeus, of arboreal habits, inhabiting Borneo and Sumatra: an endangered species.
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Also o·rang-u·tan, o·rang·u·tang, o·rang-ou·tang [aw-rang-oo-tang, oh-rang-, uh-rang-] /ɔˈræŋ ʊˌtæŋ, oʊˈræŋ-, əˈræŋ-/.

Origin of orangutan

1690–1700; < New Latin, Dutch orang outang, apparently < pidgin or bazaar Malay: literally, forest man (Malay orang man, person + (h)utan forest
Also called orang.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for orang-utan

Historical Examples

  • But other mandibles of the same kind of ape (Orang-utan) are very different.

    Prehistoric Man

    W. L. H. Duckworth

  • The Malay Archipelago: The land of the orang-utan and the bird of paradise.

  • The Orang-utan has no uvula as in Man and in the Chimpanzees.

  • But above all I had come across a great many “orang-utan” (Malay for “jungle-man”) and had been able to study their habits.

  • Stories are told by natives of the orang-utan seizing and carrying away young Dyak girls to their dens in the forests.

    On the Equator

    Harry de Windt

British Dictionary definitions for orang-utan


orang-utang (ɔːˌræŋuːˈtæŋ, ˌɔːræŋˈuːtæŋ)

  1. a large anthropoid ape, Pongo pygmaeus, of the forests of Sumatra and Borneo, with shaggy reddish-brown hair and strong armsSometimes shortened to: orang
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Word Origin

C17: from Malay orang hutan, from ōrang man + hūtan forest
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

Word Origin and History for orang-utan



1690s, from Dutch orang-outang (1631), from Malay orang utan, literally "man of the woods," from orang "man" + utan, hutan "forest, wild." It is possible that the word originally was used by town-dwellers on Java to describe savage forest tribes of the Sunda Islands and that Europeans misunderstood it to mean the ape. The name is not now applied in Malay to the animal, but there is evidence that it was used so in 17c. [OED]

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper