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n. pl. mon·keys
a. Any of various tailed primates of the suborder Anthropoidea, including the macaques, baboons, capuchins, and marmosets, and excluding the apes.
b. A nonhuman ape. Not in scientific use.
2. One who behaves in a way suggestive of a monkey, as a mischievous child or a mimic.
3. The iron block of a pile driver.
4. Slang A person who is mocked, duped, or made to appear a fool: They made a monkey out of him.
5. Offensive Slang Used as a disparaging term for a person with dark skin.
v. mon·keyed, mon·key·ing, mon·keys
v.intr. Informal
1. To play, fiddle, trifle, or tamper with something: Who was monkeying with my cell phone?
2. To behave in a mischievous or apish manner: Stop monkeying around!
To imitate or mimic; ape.
monkey on one's back
1. An addiction to a drug.
2. An object of persistent worry or obsession.

[Perhaps ultimately from Middle Low German Moneke, name of a young ape in the beast epic Reynke de Vos ("Reynard the Fox"), shortening of Simoneke, diminutive (used in punning reference to Latin sīmia, ape, monkey; see simian) of the Middle High German name Simon (equivalent to English Simeon Simon).]


  • macaque - Based on Bantu kaku, "monkey," and ma, denoting a plural, translating to "some monkeys."
  • monkey business - A transfer of the tricks of monkeys to human behavior.
  • barrel of monkeys - Monkeys are usually a source of merriment, so if one had a barrelful of them, one supposes this to be quite hilarious; a group of monkeys is actually called a troop.
  • see monkeys - To be overcome by the heat while working.
References in classic literature ?
We do not drink where the monkeys drink; we do not go where the monkeys go; we do not hunt where they hunt; we do not die where they die.
Her knowledge of monkeys was slight, but she fancied they looked with favour on bananas.
I believe one of our South American spider monkeys wouldn't hesitate .
I learned dot trick in Mogoung Tanjong when I was collecting liddle monkeys for some peoples in Berlin.
There was a rushing of many wings, a great chattering and laughing, and the sun came out of the dark sky to show the Wicked Witch surrounded by a crowd of monkeys, each with a pair of immense and powerful wings on his shoulders.
I told his majesty, "that in Europe we had no monkeys, except such as were brought for curiosity from other places, and so small, that I could deal with a dozen of them together, if they presumed to attack me.
As they were hunting and shouting through the trees a black monkey suddenly appeared on a point of rock and said: 'Poor sorrowing people, you are seeking your Prince in vain.
A MAN of humble birth and no breading, who held a high political office, was passing through a forest, when he met a Monkey.
Once when he was sitting on his garden wall, smoking a pipe in the evening, an Italian organ- grinder came round with a monkey on a string.
Then he stooped and gathered a handful of earth, and murmured some words over it, after which he threw the earth in my face, saying as he did so, "Quit the form of a man, and assume that of a monkey.
JUPITER held a baby show, open to all animals, and a Monkey entered her hideous cub for a prize, but Jupiter only laughed at her.
Sara she was called, a small, green monkey from South America, who seemed to have been born hysterical and indignant, and with no appreciation of humour.