800-pound gorilla

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"800-pound gorilla" is an American English expression for a person or organization so powerful that it can act without regard to the rights of others or the law.[1]

The phrase is rooted in a joke riddle:

"Where does an 800-lb. gorilla sit?"

The answer:

"Anywhere it wants to."

This highlights the disparity of power between the "800-lb. gorilla" and everything else. The term can describe a powerful geopolitical and military force, or, in business, a powerful corporate entity that has such a large majority percentage of whatever market they compete within that they can use that strength to crush would-be competitors.

The metaphor has been mixed, on occasion, with the metaphor of the elephant in the room.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Definition of 800–pound gorilla". Merriam Webster. Retrieved 3 April 2017. 
  2. ^ Stevens, Heidi. "The 800-pound grammar gorilla," Chicago Tribune. January 05, 2011; retrieved 2013-8-3.