monkey's wedding

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Combination of possessive of monkey + wedding. Perhaps patterned after the Portuguese casamento de rapôsa, which literally means 'vixen's wedding', used in the same sense. The Portuguese phrase may have been changed to casamento de macaco 'monkey's wedding' in Portugal's southern African colonies. Alternatively, it may have come to South African's English from the Zulu phrase umshado we zinkawu, which literally means 'wedding for monkeys'.


monkey's wedding (plural monkeys' weddings)

  1. (South Africa) A sun shower.
    • 1939, Country Life[1], volume 85, page 290:
      "Hullo, there's a monkey's wedding," said my wife's niece, a girl of about twenty, born in South Africa [] She was looking out on the lawn, and it was one of those lovely April mornings with sunshine and rain alternating []
    • 1965, Doris Lessing, Landlocked, HarperPerennial 1995, p. 132:
      She went on to supply a series of vague remarks until he was not listening: that […] the rain that afternoon had been a real monkey's wedding, half storm, half sunshine.
    • 2010, Claire Datnow, Behind The Walled Garden of Apartheid (page 31)
      "Look, it's a monkey's wedding!" Ba exclaimed, using a well-known South African expression referring to rain and sunshine occurring at the same time, and admiring the eerie effect of rain falling through a burst of sunshine.