Word Confusion: Gorilla versus Guerilla

Posted May 31, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 17 February 2018

This is another of those word confusions I don’t come across too often, but when I do, it’s definitely sigh-worthy. Although, maybe the author is confusing the hairy, unwashed aspects of guerrillas with gorillas??? Poor gorillas…LOL

Of course, gorilla has been used as a type of shorthand to quickly describe a big, violent-looking man without much brainpower.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Gorilla Guerilla
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

Gorilla sitting on his haunches up against a grayish green wall, one arm bent at the elbow, his hand in a fist, staring out at us

“Western Lowland Gorilla” is Ltshears’ own work and in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The partisan on the left is carrying what appears to be a Soviet PPD-40 submachine gun. His companion is equipped with a Mosin rifle (with factory bayonet), plus German bayonet/dagger (on waistband) and two RGD-33 grenades.

“Soviet Guerilla” by an unknown photographer is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Part of Grammar:
Plural: gorillas
Adjective; Noun
Plural: guerillas, guerrillas
Alternative spelling: guerrilla
Powerfully built ape with a large head and short neck, found in the forests of central Africa

[Informal] Heavily built, aggressive-looking man

Used to describe a type of warfare

Member of a small independent group taking part in irregular fighting, typically against larger, regular forces

There are three races of the gorilla family: two lowland and the mountain gorilla.

Nash only ever employs gorillas on his security teams.

It’s guerilla tactics.

I like the idea of guerilla gardening, as it makes good use of and brightens up empty space.

One of the primary reasons the United States won the Revolutionary War was their use of guerilla warfare against the British.

The town fell to the guerrillas.

History of the Word:
Allegedly from an Africa word for a wild or hairy person from the 5th or 6th century BC

In 1847, it was adopted as the specific name of the ape.

A diminutive which arose with the Peninsular War of 1808-1814 and is from the Spanish guerra.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

Guerilla / Gorilla by Kristina McKay and Derek Ruiz and courtesy of Guerilla Art.

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