don·​key | \ ˈdäŋ-kē How to pronounce donkey (audio) , ˈdəŋ- How to pronounce donkey (audio) , ˈdȯŋ- How to pronounce donkey (audio) \
plural donkeys

Definition of donkey

1 : the domestic ass (Equus asinus)
2 : a stupid or obstinate person

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Synonyms for donkey


ass, burro, jackass, moke [British slang]

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Examples of donkey in a Sentence

we put our bags on the donkey and headed down the canyon called him a donkey when he refused to go along with their plans

Recent Examples on the Web

But on the other hand, the odds are still in the donkey’s favor: If the 24 Toss Ups were to split evenly between the parties, Democrats would gain 18 seats, five short of a majority. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Democrats Look Good Again on Key Midterm Polling Numbers," 12 July 2018 Two cases of eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) have been confirmed in a horse and a donkey, Department of Health spokeswoman Holly Smith said. Lisa Maria Garza,, "Health officials warn of mosquito-borne illness in Volusia County," 2 July 2018 Investigators found and relocated 70 live horses, nine donkeys, six pigs and one longhorn on the property in Van Zandt County, about 30 miles east of Dallas, the newspaper reported. Robert Rhoden,, "'A sea of dead horses' at Texas ranch: report," 11 Apr. 2018 The allure goes much deeper than its endless, untouched beaches with roaming donkeys and wooden sailboats (although that alone sounds pretty magical to us)—the winding streets of its historic old town date back to the 14th century. Monica Mendal, Vogue, "A Designer’s Guide to Lamu Island, Kenya’s Hidden Paradise," 4 Feb. 2019 There were talk-radio donkeys ready to send Coach Khakipants to the Buffalo Bills or Buffalo Wild Wings. Jason Gay, WSJ, "Wisconsin Must Beat Michigan to Save the World," 12 Oct. 2018 By this rule, domesticated dogs are a single species — whether dachshund or Great Dane — but a donkey and a horse are not. Bridget Alex, Discover Magazine, "What Defines A Species?," 17 Aug. 2018 To be fair, this is hard, since donkeys reproduce slowly. The Economist, "Saving assesAfricans want to sell donkey skins. Western charities want to stop them," 8 Mar. 2018 The miners have traveled by donkey, motorcycle and even foot, making the last part of their journeys in trucks escorted by the military. Joe Parkinson, WSJ, "Thousands Flock to Remote, Lawless Sahara in Search of Gold," 16 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'donkey.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of donkey

circa 1785, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for donkey

origin unknown

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Statistics for donkey

Last Updated

22 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for donkey

The first known use of donkey was circa 1785

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English Language Learners Definition of donkey

: an animal that is like a small horse with large ears


don·​key | \ ˈdäŋ-kē How to pronounce donkey (audio) , ˈdəŋ-, ˈdȯŋ-\
plural donkeys

Kids Definition of donkey

: an animal related to but smaller than the horse that has short hair in mane and tail and very large ears

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More from Merriam-Webster on donkey

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with donkey

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for donkey

Spanish Central: Translation of donkey

Nglish: Translation of donkey for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of donkey for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about donkey

Comments on donkey

What made you want to look up donkey? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a shady place in a garden or forest

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