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a. 1971, from a riddle: "Where does an 800-pound gorilla sleep?" / "Anywhere it wants."
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800-pound gorilla (plural 800-pound gorillas)
- (idiomatic) An entity that dominates its environment.
- 2014 February 26, quoting Eddie Gossage, “Bernie Ecclestone dismisses Nascar objection to US Grand Prix date clash”, in The Guardian:
- The thing he unfortunately doesn't recognise is there is an 800-pound gorilla when it comes to major American motor sports. The 800-pound gorilla is Nascar.
- 2016 May 31, James Poniewozik, “Trump, 800-Pound Media Gorilla, Pounds His Chest at Reporters”, in The New York Times, ISSN 0362-4331:
- It was poetically fitting. For almost a year, Mr. Trump has been the 800-pound gorilla whose unpredictable rampages have obsessed the news media. Now he was completing the circle by commenting on the 400-pound gorilla who briefly stole the spotlight from him for one holiday weekend.
- (idiomatic) Something dangerous, menacing, or frightening that is obvious but not addressed.
- Synonym: elephant in the room
- 2018 March 13, Jessica Glenza, “Sky-high prices of everything make US healthcare the world's most expensive”, in The Guardian:
- However, a co-author of the new study said those arguments ignore the “800-pound gorilla”: sky-high prices everywhere.
- The weight in the metaphor can be varied quantitatively.
- Occasionally other nouns are substituted, most commonly elephant from another idiom, but also more context-specific nouns, such as rutabaga in an article on gardening.
- Occasionally adjectives are inserted to modify gorilla to bring the metaphor closer to the context.
- 800-pound gorilla at OneLook Dictionary Search
- Instances of variation by weight from Spy