any of a group of anthropoid primates characterized by long arms, a broad chest, and the absence of a tail, comprising the family Pongidae (great ape) which includes the chimpanzee, gorilla, and orangutan, and the family Hylobatidae (lesser ape) which includes the gibbon and siamang.
(loosely) any primate except humans.
an imitator; mimic.
Informal. a big, ugly, clumsy person.
to imitate; mimic:
to ape another’s style of writing.
go ape, Slang. to become violently emotional:
When she threatened to leave him, he went ape.
go ape over, Slang. to be extremely enthusiastic about:
They go ape over old rock music.
Contemporary Examples

President Obama, helping us beat back China by aping China.
How China Could Help Obama Win the Budget Battle Peter Beinart April 13, 2011

His first recordings were a classic case of trying too hard, aping the Bluebird beat.
The Stacks: How Leonard Chess Helped Make Muddy Waters Alex Belth August 1, 2014

Historical Examples

I know it is no aping of a fashion that has brought you here.
Speeches, Addresses, and Occasional Sermons, Volume 1 (of 3) Theodore Parker

Put it on, put it on: I don’t want you to be aping lady-airs.
Lippincott’s Magazine, Vol. 22, September, 1878 Various

The prioress is conventional and weak, aping courtly manners.
Beacon Lights of History, Volume VI John Lord

She insisted on artists painting their age and not aping the dead past.
Fragonard Haldane Macfall

It was by the same method that men, aping her, bred race-horses and cucumbers.
Martin Eden Jack London

No, she is just the same: aping youth, with the desire to conceal age.
An Unwilling Maid Jeanie Gould Lincoln

We shall gain nothing by aping the customs and trying to adjust ourselves to the creeds of other sects.
The Works of Whittier, Volume VII (of VII) John Greenleaf Whittier

In Washington the servants are blacks; irresponsible, childlike, aping the vanities of the white people.
As A Chinaman Saw Us Anonymous

any of various primates, esp those of the family Pongidae, in which the tail is very short or absent See anthropoid ape See also great ape
(not in technical use) any monkey
an imitator; mimic
(US, informal) a coarse, clumsy, or rude person
(transitive) to imitate

“imitation, mimicry,” 1680s, verbal noun from ape (v.).

Old English apa “ape, monkey,” from Proto-Germanic *apan (cf. Old Saxon apo, Old Norse api, Dutch aap, German affe), perhaps borrowed in Proto-Germanic from Celtic (cf. Old Irish apa) or Slavic (cf. Old Bohemian op, Slovak opitza), perhaps ultimately from a non-Indo-European language.

Apes were noted in medieval times for mimicry of human action, hence, perhaps, the other figurative use of the word, to mean “a fool.” To go ape (in emphatic form, go apeshit) “go crazy” is 1955, U.S. slang. To lead apes in hell (1570s) was the fancied fate of one who died an old maid.

“to imitate,” 1630s, but the notion is implied earlier, e.g. to play the ape (1570s), Middle English apeshipe “ape-like behavior, simulation” (mid-15c.); and the noun sense of “one who mimics” may date from early 13c. Related: Aped; aping.


(also ape-shit) Stupid and destructive; irrational; berserk: You acted like you were ape, pounding the wall
(also ape-shit) Very enthusiastic; highly excited; bananas: He’s ape about my new car


A black person
The best or greatest; the ultimate: Her paintings are truly ape (Beat talk & rock and roll)
An especially strong and pugnacious hoodlum; a strong-arm man or muscle man; goon, gorilla

Related Terms

go ape, house ape, rug rat
acute pulmonary edema

an animal of the monkey tribe (1 Kings 10:22; 2 Chr. 9:21). It was brought from India by the fleets of Solomon and Hiram, and was called by the Hebrews _koph_, and by the Greeks _kepos_, both words being just the Indian Tamil name of the monkey, kapi, i.e., swift, nimble, active. No species of ape has ever been found in Palestine or the adjacent regions.


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