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See also: Monkey


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A monkey.


Borrowed from Middle Dutch monnekijn, or Middle Low German Moneke, name of the son of Martin the Ape in Reynard the Fox, a diminutive based off Old Spanish mona (mona monkey), shortening of mamona, variant of maimón, perhaps through Turkish maymun (monkey), from Arabic مَيْمُون (maymūn, fortunate, auspicious, blessed), used to ward off the monkey's bad luck. Compare Old French Monequin.



monkey (plural monkeys)

  1. Any member of the clade Simiiformes not also of the clade Hominoidea containing humans and apes, from which they are usually, but not universally, distinguished by smaller size, a tail, and cheek pouches.
    He had been visiting an area zoo when a monkey swung from its tree perch, swiped his glasses and hurled them into a hippo hole.
  2. (informal) Any nonhuman primate, including apes.
    Chimpanzees are known to form bands to hunt and kill other monkeys.
  3. (informal) A mischievous child.
    Stop misbehaving, you little monkey!
    She's a cheeky monkey.
    • 1909, Algernon Blackwood, You May Telephone From Here
      "Yes. He gets to Paris at seven in the morning. He promised to telephone the first thing."
      "You expensive little monkey!"
      "It's ten shillings for three minutes, or something like that, and you have to go to the G.P.O. or the Mansion House or some such place, I believe."
  4. (Britain, slang) Five hundred pounds sterling.
  5. (slang) A person or the role of the person on the sidecar platform of a motorcycle involved in sidecar racing.
  6. (slang) A person with minimal intelligence and/or an unattractive appearance
  7. (blackjack) A face card.
  8. (slang) A menial employee who does a repetitive job, as in code monkey, grease monkey, phone monkey, powder monkey.
  9. The weight or hammer of a pile driver; a heavy mass of iron, which, being raised high, falls on the head of the pile, and drives it into the earth; the falling weight of a drop hammer used in forging.
  10. A small trading vessel of the sixteenth century.

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monkey (third-person singular simple present monkeys, present participle monkeying, simple past and past participle monkeyed or monkied)

  1. (informal) To meddle; to mess with; to interfere; to fiddle.
    Please don't monkey with the controls if you don't know what you're doing.
    • 1920, Peter B. Kyne, The Understanding Heart, Chapter XII
      “As an inventor,” Bob Mason suggested, “you're a howling success at shooting craps! [] Why monkey with weak imitations when you can come close to the original?”

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