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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.
Historical Examples

He was sorry for the poor little maid who had aped the ways of the grown-up.
The Children of Wilton Chase Mrs. L. T. Meade

Her backwoods twang sharpened as she aped some contemporary witch.
Vigorish Gordon Randall Garrett

But the ladies within Ludgate not only aped them in this fashion, but added thereto a gold embroidery and jewels.
Caricature and Other Comic Art James Parton.

He was Italian to the core, for all that he aped the English style and manner.
The Place of Honeymoons Harold MacGrath

There was, however, less of assumption in his lowliness than in his loftiness; his was never “a pride that aped humility.”
The Catholic World. Volume II; Numbers 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. E. Rameur

Yes; and found it the biggest humbug that ever aped Gods grass.
Cradock Nowell, Vol. 1 (of 3) Richard Doddridge Blackmore

All who served the Great Adventurer gave it the first place in their consideration, and de Casimir only aped his betters.
Barlasch of the Guard H. S. Merriman

Treenail was coolness itself, and I aped him as well as I could.
Tom Cringle’s Log Michael Scott

You of all men were the most incapable of making your way; I aped a poor model indeed.
Samuel Brohl & Company Victor Cherbuliez

He had once been on a steamboat and so aped the airs of the steamboat waiters.
Back at School with the Tucker Twins Nell Speed

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

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.


Drunk (1900s+)


(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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