From monkey + business, probably a calque of Bengali বাঁদরামি (bãdôrami, “mischief”, literally “monkey behaviour”), from বাঁদর (bãdôr, “monkey”) + -আমি (-ami, suffix forming nouns referring to the properties, qualities, or states of the words to which it is attached), from the perception that monkeys behave mischievously.
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈmʌŋkɪ ˌbɪznɪs/, /-nɪz/, [-nəs], [-nəz]
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˈmʌŋki ˌbɪznɪs/, /ˈməŋ-/, /-nɪz/, [-nəs], [-nəz]
Audio (AU) (file)
- Hyphenation: monk‧ey busi‧ness
- Activity that is mischievous, stupid, or time-wasting. [from mid 19th c.]
- Synonyms: see Thesaurus:mischief
- Stop all this monkey business and do your homework!
- 1918 December 10, J[oseph] Allan Dunn, “The Man With the Mole”, in Detective Story Magazine, volume XIX, number 5, New York, N.Y.: Street & Smith Corporation, OCLC 39454532, chapter VIII (The End of Baldy), page 39, column 1:
- I’m going to take off the cuffs, Slim, and off you, Jerry. But don’t try any monkey business. When Peters answers the door, you tell him everything’s O. K., and that you’re the committee, see? Once the door’s open, we’ll do the rest.
- Activity that is morally questionable or even mildly illegal.
- Synonyms: hanky-panky; see also Thesaurus:badness
- She wondered what sort of monkey business her neighbour was up to, sneaking out of his house at 1:00 am.
- 1925, John Dos Passos, “Revolving Doors”, in Manhattan Transfer, New York, N.Y.; London: Harper & Brothers, OCLC 988351, 3rd section, page 328:
- If you ever hear a man talking about his duty as a citizen, by the Living Jingo dont trust him. … He's up to some kind of monkey business nine times out of ten. You dont know what a relief it is to me that you and Joe are comfortably settled in life.