Word Choice: Gorilla vs. Guerrilla
  • 3-minute read
  • 19th March 2021

Word Choice: Gorilla vs. Guerrilla

The words “gorilla” and “guerrilla” sound similar, so it is easy to get them confused. They are, however, spelled differently and mean different things. To help you avoid errors in your writing, then, this post will explain how to use both terms.

Gorilla (A Large Ape)

“Gorilla” is a noun that refers to a type of large ape from Africa:

I would love to see a gorilla in the wild.

Dian Fossey was famous for studying gorillas.

Some people also use this word to describe a heavy-set, aggressive person. However, this use is fairly rare and, if you ask us, very unfair on actual gorillas.

A gorilla leaning over some vegetation.
A silverback gorilla. (Photo: Pierre Fidenci)

Guerrilla (Irregular Warfare)

“Guerrilla” can be an adjective or a noun in English. As an adjective, it refers to a type of irregular warfare (or the characteristics thereof). For example:

The rebels waged guerrilla warfare against the government.

They used guerrilla tactics to raid the barracks.

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Guerrilla warfare typically involves a small group of combatants using tactics such as ambushes and sabotage to attack larger, less mobile forces.

As a noun, meanwhile, “guerrilla” refers to someone engaged in guerrilla warfare:

The guerrillas used the mountain passes to escape detection.

He was a guerrilla in the last uprising.

Famous guerrillas include Che Guevara and Pancho Villa.

Occasionally, people also use “guerrilla” as an adjective to refer to an irregular or improvised method of doing something. For example, “guerrilla marketing” refers to using unconventional methods to advertise something.

Finally, “guerilla” (with only one “r”) is accepted as a variant spelling of this word sometimes. However, the double “r” version is more common and matches the original Spanish spelling of this word (i.e., guerrilla, meaning “little war”).

Whichever spelling you use, though, make sure to use it consistently!

Summary: Gorilla or Guerrilla?

These two words sound similar, but it is important not to confuse them:

  • Gorilla is a noun that refers to a large ape living in the forests of central Africa.
  • Guerrilla is an adjective describing a type of irregular warfare. It can also be a noun that refers to someone engaged in this type of fighting.

These words have very different uses, which should help you tell them apart. But don’t forget that we have expert proofreaders on hand to help with any aspect of your writing, from word choices to spelling. Get in touch today to find out more.

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