The phrase is rooted in a riddle joke:
"Where does an 800-pound gorilla sit?" [The answer: "Anywhere it wants to."]
This highlights the disparity of power between the 800-pound gorilla and everything else. (Gorillas in the wild never reach even as much as 600 pounds.)
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.
In law, the phrase occurs semi-(in)formally as a characterization of judges vs. courts; as in: "Standard/Court Rule" vs "Gorilla/Judge Rule".
- "Definition of 800–pound gorilla". Merriam Webster. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
- Offenkrantz and Lichter, "Sua Sponte Actions in the Appellate Courts: The 'Gorilla Rule' Revisited"
- Stevens, Heidi. "The 800-pound grammar gorilla," Chicago Tribune. January 05, 2011; retrieved 2013-8-3.
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