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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

And as the Thing listened, its hair bristling, it thrust its villainous, apelike head well forward.
Darkness and Dawn George Allan England

Suspicion growing in his glance, the apelike one continued to eye him.
The Wolf Cub Patrick Casey

By the strong amber light of the sun flare Nelson had a vision of the last two warriors swinging in apelike agility to the ground.
Astounding Stories, February, 1931 Various

On the second table lay a twisted, distorted thing, an apelike body with which fate had played grotesque pranks.
The Passing of Ku Sui Anthony Gilmore

Whether he was generous and heroic as the New Zealander, or apelike and thievish as the Bushman, no ethnologist has yet proved.
Old and New London Walter Thornbury

The apelike Pascual grumbled, but loyally he followed his arrogant and imperious camarada.
The Wolf Cub Patrick Casey

The youthful Civil Guard eyed the apelike Pascual a moment, and then derisively laughed.
The Wolf Cub Patrick Casey

Here the watchers saw a glistening back; again, an out-thrust leg, small and crooked, apelike and repulsive.
Darkness and Dawn George Allan England

“Fools and children tell the truth,” returned the apelike Pascual, quoting an old Spanish proverb.
The Wolf Cub Patrick Casey

He was a short, very thickset little man, with very long arms—a squat, apelike figure.
The Girl in the Golden Atom Raymond King Cummings

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.


(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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