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See also: Monkey


English Wikipedia has an article on:
A monkey.


Uncertain. May be derived from monk +‎ -ey (diminutive suffix), or borrowed from Middle Low German Moneke, the name of the son of Martin the Ape in Reynard the Fox (which may represent an unattested colloquial Middle Low German *moneke, *moneken), itself of uncertain origin. Possibly derived from a Romance term represented by Late Middle French monne (whence Modern French mone (monkey)) or earlier Old French monnekin (monkey), originally Monnekin, the name of a monkey in Li Dis d'Entendement. Compare also Old French and Middle French monin (monkey). The French terms may have been borrowed from Italian monna (monkey), from Old Spanish mona (female monkey), itself a shortening of mamona, variant of maimón, from Arabic مَيْمُون (maymūn, baboon)). However, Old French monnekin may alternatively be unrelated to the other terms, instead being a borrowing of Early Middle Dutch mannekin (a diminutive of a personal name or surname; hence, nickname, literally miniature man).



monkey (plural monkeys or (obsolete) monkies)

  1. (properly) A member of the clade Simiiformes other than those in the clade Hominoidea containing humans and apes, generally (but not universally) distinguished by small size, tails, 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. (inexact, sometimes proscribed) Any simian primate other than hominids, any monkey or ape.
    Chimpanzees are known to form bands to hunt and kill other monkeys.
  3. (figurative, generally derogatory) A human considered to resemble monkeys in some way, including:
    1. (informal, sometimes offensive) A naughty or mischievous person, especially a child.
      Stop misbehaving, you cheeky little 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."
    2. (slang) The person in the motorcycle sidecar in sidecar racing.
    3. (derogatory) Synonym of idiot: a person of minimal intelligence.
    4. (derogatory) Synonym of uggo: an unattractive person, especially one whose face supposedly resembles a monkey's.
    5. (slang, derogatory) Synonym of puppet: a person dancing to another's tune, a person controlled or directed by another.
      No, no, no, not you. I want to talk to the organ grinder, not the monkey.
    6. (slang, usually derogatory) A menial employee who does a repetitive job supposedly requiring minimal intelligence.
  4. (slang, derogatory, ethnic slur, offensive) A black, a black person.
  5. (slang, vulgar, uncommon) A penis.
  6. (historical) A small trading vessel of the sixteenth century.
  7. (slang, nautical) The vessel in which a mess receives its full allowance of grog.
  8. The weight of a pile driver or drop hammer.
    • 2007, Broos Campbell, No Quarter, page 111:
      Someone handed me a monkey of grog. I forced myself to sip it, not down it.
  9. A fluid consisting of hydrochloric acid and zinc, used in the process of soldering.
  10. (slang) Synonym of five hundred, especially (British) 500 pounds sterling or (US, dated) 500 dollars.
    • 2004, The Streets (lyrics and music), “It Was Supposed to Be So Easy”, in A Grand Don’t Come for Free:
      A thousandth of a million squid or two monkeys
      Or a whole fifty scores
  11. (blackjack) Synonym of face card.
  12. (slang) A person's temper, said to be "up" when they are angry.
    • 1864, Eneas Sweetland Dallas, Once a Week, volume 11, page 267:
      I was out rather late one night, when the foreman of my department, who owed me a grudge, abused me like a dog, and told me I might consider myself dismissed, and that I should be paid my wages in the morning. I don't know how I kept my hands off him, for my monkey was up; []
    • 2019, John Hughes-Wilson, 1918 - Defeat into Victory: A Tommy Gunn Adventure, page 98:
      Reminded me of running up that hill by the Marne – or was it the Morin? – in 1914 when Kearey had got his face ripped open by a bullet and Hedley had got his monkey up [Lost his temper, Ed.] over the Huns killing 8 of my platoon.
  13. (slang) A drug habit; an addiction; a compulsion.
    • 1938, Alfred R. Lindesmith, "Argot of the Underworld Drug Addict", Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Vol. 29, Issue 2 (July-August):
      Monkey: a habit, as in "I have a monkey on my back." Usually used when one is sick from lack of drugs.
    • 1949, Nelson Algren, The Man with The Golden Arm:
      "Man, I wasn't hooked, I was crucified. The monkey got so big he was carryin' me. [] When I hear a junkie tell me he wants to kick the habit but he just can't I know he lies even if he don't know he does. He wants to carry the monkey, he's punishin' hisself for somethin' 'n don't even know it. [] Then I got forty grains 'n went up to the room 'n went from monkey to nothin' in twenny-eight days 'n that's nine-ten years ago 'n the monkey's dead."
      "The monkey's never dead, Fixer," Frankie told him knowingly.
    • 1976 September, Saul Bellow, Humboldt’s Gift, New York, N.Y.: Avon Books, →ISBN, page 431:
      I thought I would like to learn about the dope scene anyway, and the boy must have some character, you know, if he got the monkey off his back (as they used to say in our time) without outside help.
    Everybody's got something to hide except for me and my monkey.
  14. (dance) A dance popularized by Major Lance in 1963, now usually only its upper-body dance move involving exaggerated drumming motions.

Derived terms[edit]


  • Chukchi: маӈкы (maṇky)
  • Coeur d'Alene: moonki
  • Irish: moncaí
  • Navajo: mágí
  • Scottish Gaelic: muncaidh
  • Tumbuka: munkhwele
  • Welsh: mwnci



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

  1. (intransitive, informal) To meddle; to mess (with).
    Synonyms: interfere, fiddle
    Please don't monkey with the controls if you don't know what you're doing.
    • 1920, Peter B. Kyne, chapter XII, in The Understanding Heart:
      “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?”
  2. (transitive) To mimic; to ape.
    • 2011, Elizabeth Mosier, The Playgroup, page 83:
      He winked at Liza, who monkeyed him, holding her own eye shut.

Derived terms[edit]


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