if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys

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A reference to peanuts (especially of a salary: a very small or insufficient amount) (originally US slang dating to the mid 20th century)[1] and monkey (a person of minimal intelligence, idiot), with a humorous allusion to the fact that monkeys are fond of nuts.


  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ɪf ˌjuː peɪ ˈpiːnʌts ˌjuː ɡɛt ˈmʌŋkiːz/
  • (General American) IPA(key): /ɪf ˌju peɪ ˈpiˌnʌts ˌjuː ɡɛt ˈmʌŋkiz/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: if you pay pea‧nuts, you get monk‧eys


if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys

  1. (British, informal) Offering a low payment or salary will not attract skilled workers or employees. [from mid 20th c.]
    Synonyms: good work ain't cheap, cheap work ain't good; if you pay bananas, you get monkeys


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jennifer Speake, editor (2015), “If you PAY peanuts, you get monkeys”, in Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs, 6th edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 244.

Further reading[edit]