silverback

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English[edit]

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Silverback Western Lowland Gorilla

Etymology[edit]

silver + back.

Noun[edit]

silverback (plural silverbacks)

  1. (zoology) A mature male of the several species of gorilla or chimpanzee, so named from the silver streaking on its back.
  2. (informal, by extension) A dominant older human male.
    • 2001, Peter Burke, New Perspectives on Historical Writing, page 145:
      Courageously (given Ranger's status in Mugabe's Zimbabwe, and his status as a silverback in North Atlantic Academe), Kriger dissents from their arguments.
    • 2003, Andrew W. Greeley, The Bishop goes to the University, page 121:
      "Have you met Professor Dolan, Bishop Blackie?" an Asian child with a beatifically innocent face asked me. "Is he that skinny silverback ape down on the first floor?"
    • 2008, Wendy Williams, Cape Wind: Celebrity, Energy, Class, Politics, and the Battle for Our Energy Future, page 127:
      "That's peanuts. I'm talking about real money," replied [Senator] Ted [Kennedy], who in fact had no idea how much the developer would pay, as that detail had yet to be worked out. / "What are your other main reasons?" Liedell asked, persisting with the old silverback.

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