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monkey on one's back




monkey on one's back

  1. (figuratively) An addiction, especially to narcotic drugs.
    • 1972 July 24, "The Blue-Collar Blues," Time:
      Prine's balladeering also includes social comment, as in Sam Stone, a song about a veteran returning from "the conflict overseas with a Purple Heart and a monkey on his back."
    • 1949, Nelson Algren, "The Man With The Golden Arm":
      "You got my monkey, Dealer? You take my nice old monkey away from me? Is that monkey ridin' your back these days, Dealer?"
  2. (figuratively) A state of persistent distress or worry or the cause of such a state.
    • 1922, D. H. Lawrence, "Wintry Peacock," in England, My England:
      "'E's got th' monkey on 'is back ower this letter job," said the father secretly to me.



  • Random House Webster's Unabridged Electronic Dictionary, 1987-1996.