Definition of monkey in English:
noun (plural monkeys)
- Families Cebidae and Callitrichidae (or Callithricidae) (New World monkeys, often with prehensile tails), and Cercopithecidae (Old World monkeys, without prehensile tails)
- It was a place where you can see wild monkeys living in the trees.
- By contrast, many Old World monkeys, such as baboons and macaques, live longer, start to reproduce later, and have more time between babies.
- If these differences had evolved in savannahs or forests, then they should be reflected in monkeys and apes that live in these habitats today.
- In general, monkeys are important figures in the mythologies of Asia.
- The answer is that the only other animal that comes with a pair of hands is a monkey, and monkeys aren't generally very efficient.
- This may reflect differences in forest ecology or between monkeys, but it does suggest caution about generalising from over simple models.
- Well, we've definitely heard of mischievous monkeys but Charlie is just cheeky, I think we can safely say.
- That said, head office still seems to be populated by an unmanageable number of monkeys.
- I have read of accounts in the media of people being mistreated as a public servant, monkeys on computers, people leaving due to stress and mistreatment.
- The lesson was that if you present your party as the prospective junior government partner, voters will opt for the organ grinder rather than the monkey.
verb (monkeys, monkeying, monkeyed)Back to top
- My brother and I were monkeying around and he was pretending to try to throw me to the ground.
- So don't monkey around - break out the pen and paper, and write away!
- This is just the place for those who like to monkey around.
- Simon can't resist monkeying with some of the arrangements either.
- The CIA, Graham said, were monkeying with democracy.
- I figure a superhuman spirit is capable of monkeying with natural phenomena at times.
mid 16th century: of unknown origin, perhaps from Low German.
The origin of monkey seems to go back to a name given to the monkey character in medieval beast epics, which may ultimately be Arabic. Historically, ape was used as the general term for all apes and monkeys, and appears much earlier in English. People often associate monkeys with mischief and mimicry. British monkey tricks ‘mischievous behaviour’ are monkeyshines (mid 19th century) in the USA. The use of monkey business for ‘mischievous behaviour’ seems to have come from India. If you don't give a monkey's you do not care at all. This phrase, recorded from the late 19th century, is a shortening of something ruder, such as don't give a monkey's ass or f—. The slang sense of a monkey, for £500 (or, in Australia, $500), is much older than you might expect, going back to the 1830s, and a pony, or £25, is from the late 18th century. See also brass, cheek
as artful (or clever) as a wagonload (or cartload) of monkeys
make a monkey of (or out of) someone
- Humiliate someone by making them appear ridiculous: he thinks he can make a monkey out of me, but he’s got another think coming!More example sentences
- Desmond said, ‘You'll never make a monkey out of me!’
- The meteorologists make a monkey of me once again.
- They've finally made a monkey out of me at this website.
a monkey on one's back informal
- A burdensome problem: the issue of her absence from the tournament last year remains the monkey on her backMore example sentences
- The North, understandably still stuck in an anti-British mode, couldn't bring itself to throw this particular monkey off its back.
- It was like having a monkey on your back that you just can't get rid of.
- Is retro therefore almost a monkey on your back when trying to get your new product off the ground?
not give (or care) a monkey's
- British informal Be completely indifferent or unconcerned: he doesn’t give a monkey’s what we think about himMore example sentences
- ‘Mrs B,’ as he is wont to describe his wife Katie, ‘doesn't give a monkey's what I say, at least not on matters political.’
- He doesn't give a monkey's about being liked and is not averse to sledging markers to disrupt their concentration for advantage.
- ‘I don't give a monkey's what people say,’ she says in her no-nonsense east London accent.
- Example sentences
- That's the group of people who each of us, using our monkeyish brains, are able to conceptualize as people.
- ‘That is why I need to act,’ explained Barcél, with a crude sweep of his monkeyish hands.
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