I recently got a mail from a customer saying that something went wrong on his "ape computer".

As a non-native english speaker, I know that the verb "to ape" exists with the meaning of "to mimic". I also know that this customer use some testing computers before going on production ones.

Is it correct/common to use the word "ape" as an adjective to describe a object very similar to another one (even in slang)? I didn't find examples nor usages in dictionaries.

(EDIT: It might also be just a typo on his part, as he sent the mail from his smartphone)


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    This usage is not common in the US. I would first assume it meant "mimic" -- a "shadow" or "backup" computer -- but "clumsy" (a rare meaning in the US), as suggested by Margana, makes more sense in the above context. "Oafish" would be more likely used to carry that meaning in the US.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 11:18
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    Could they have meant "Apple" but made a typo and suffered from an unfortunate auto-correct? Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 12:42
  • Yes, it's a possibility. However, I think he owns an iPhone, that would be a funny paradoxical situation!
    – nioKi
    Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 12:53
  • @nokid: even an iPhone might correct aple to ape instead of Apple :)
    – oerkelens
    Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 12:55
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    Unless you have a pretty informal relationship with your customer, I think a mistyped Apple is more likely than a very informal, albeit a bit mild, expletive to describe his computer. I don't expect a message from a customer that something went wrong on his f%@#ing computer, or even his damned, or stupid, or bad computer.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 12:58

1 Answer 1


There are several meanings for "ape" in a dictionary. It's a good idea to find as many different dictionaries as you can and read all their definitions.

Here's the free dictionary definition:

  1. Any of various tailless Old World primates of the superfamily Hominoidea, including the gibbons, orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, and humans.
  2. Any of various members of this superfamily bearing fur and usually living in the wild, especially orangutans, gorillas, and chimpanzees, in contrast to humans. Not in scientific use.
  3. A tailed primate such as a monkey. Not in scientific use.
  4. A mimic or imitator.
  5. (Informal) A clumsy or boorish person.

I think the likeliest choice for you appears to be the last one: it was a "clumsy and boorish computer" (transforming the noun into an adjective).

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