See also: Monkey


English Wikipedia has an article on:
A monkey.


Uncertain. May be either derived from Middle English monk, or borrowed from Middle Low German Moneke, name of the son of Martin the Ape in Reynard the Fox (which may represent an unattested colloquial *moneke, which in turn is possibly a diminutive from Middle French monne, from Old Spanish mona, shortening of mamona, variant of maimón, from Arabic مَيْمُون(maymūn, baboon)). 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 simian primate, including apes.
    Chimpanzees are known to form bands to hunt and kill other monkeys.
  3. (informal) A mischievous person, often a 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. A dance move popular in the 1960s.
  5. (Britain, slang) Five hundred pounds sterling; (US, dated) five hundred 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
  6. (slang) A person or the role of the person on the sidecar platform of a motorcycle involved in sidecar racing.
  7. (slang) A person with minimal intelligence and/or an unattractive appearance
  8. (blackjack) A face card.
  9. (slang) A menial employee who does a repetitive job, as in code monkey, grease monkey, phone monkey, powder monkey.
  10. 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.
  11. (historical) A small trading vessel of the sixteenth century.
  12. (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.
    • 1975, Saul Bellow, Humboldt's Gift [Avon ed., 1976, p. 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.
  13. A fluid consisting of hydrochloric acid and zinc, used in the process of soldering.
  14. (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.
  15. (slang, derogatory, ethnic slur, offensive) A black person.
  16. (slang, nautical) The vessel in which a mess receives its full allowance of grog.
    • 2007, Broos Campbell, No Quarter (page 111)
      Someone handed me a monkey of grog. I forced myself to sip it, not down it.

Derived termsEdit


  • 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).
    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?”
    Synonyms: interfere, fiddle
  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 termsEdit


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