monkey

noun
mon·​key | \ ˈməŋ-kē How to pronounce monkey (audio) \
plural monkeys

Definition of monkey

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a nonhuman primate mammal with the exception usually of the lemurs and tarsiers especially : any of the smaller longer-tailed catarrhine or platyrrhine primates as contrasted with the apes
2a : a person resembling a monkey
b : a ludicrous figure : dupe
3 : any of various machines, implements, or vessels especially : the falling weight of a pile driver
4 : a desperate desire for or addiction to drugs often used in the phrase monkey on one's back broadly : a persistent or annoying encumbrance or problem

monkey

verb
monkeyed; monkeying

Definition of monkey (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to act in a grotesque or mischievous manner
2a : fool, trifle often used with around he likes to monkey around with engines
b : tamper usually used with with don't monkey with the settings

Synonyms for monkey

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of monkey in a Sentence

Noun He's quite a cheeky little monkey, isn't he? I've got this monkey on my back, and going to detox is the only way to get it off.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Cristoforetti’s daughter picked out the monkey plush. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 9 May 2022 The monkey from the Moon will have an alternate fire. Kris Holt, Forbes, 25 Apr. 2022 The baby monkey is currently bonding with its mom and troop at the zoo. Alexandra Schonfeld, PEOPLE.com, 25 Apr. 2022 That could have hurt or killed the monkey, the inspector wrote. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 18 Apr. 2022 The end-credits sequence of the movie carries such a feeling of exuberance, with all the dancers, Laura Dern, Laura Harring, and the monkey. Darren Franich, EW.com, 12 Apr. 2022 Last April, Neuralink released a viral video that showed a monkey playing Pong with its mind. Washington Post, 3 May 2022 Initially, the cell lines used were monkey kidney cells. Matthew Herper, STAT, 28 Apr. 2022 In December, a langur monkey who frequently visited the village of Dalupura died of cold exposure, and was sent to its eternal rest by a crowd of about fifteen hundred people. Susan Orlean, The New Yorker, 19 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb With supply running low toward the end of most evenings, savvy bun fanatics don’t monkey around, routinely calling ahead to request an extra skillet of rolls set aside just for them. Ettan. Valerie Demicheva And Flora Chang, San Francisco Chronicle, 26 July 2021 But this experiment isn't about monkeying around—this a real security and safety hazard, the researchers point out in a new paper. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, 31 Jan. 2020 To make matters more confusing, Apple monkeyed around with the names of the new stuff. Geoffrey A. Fowler, The Denver Post, 15 Sep. 2019 To make matters more confusing, Apple monkeyed around with the names of the new stuff. Geoffrey A. Fowler, The Denver Post, 15 Sep. 2019 To make matters more confusing, Apple monkeyed around with the names of the new stuff. Geoffrey A. Fowler, The Denver Post, 15 Sep. 2019 To make matters more confusing, Apple monkeyed around with the names of the new stuff. Geoffrey A. Fowler, The Denver Post, 15 Sep. 2019 To make matters more confusing, Apple monkeyed around with the names of the new stuff. Geoffrey A. Fowler, The Denver Post, 15 Sep. 2019 Wayne Newton‘s pet likely won’t be monkeying around any longer. Joelle Goldstein, PEOPLE.com, 9 Aug. 2019 See More

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

First Known Use of monkey

Noun

circa 1530, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

circa 1658, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for monkey

Noun

probably of Low German origin; akin to Moneke, name of an ape, probably of Romance origin; akin to Old Spanish mona monkey

Learn More About monkey

Time Traveler for monkey

Time Traveler

The first known use of monkey was circa 1530

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near monkey

monkery

monkey

monkey about

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for monkey

Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Monkey.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/monkey. Accessed 17 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for monkey

monkey

noun
mon·​key | \ ˈməŋ-kē How to pronounce monkey (audio) \
plural monkeys

Kids Definition of monkey

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a furry animal of warm regions that has a long tail and that along with the apes is most closely related to humans

monkey

verb
monkeyed; monkeying

Kids Definition of monkey (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to spend time in an idle or aimless way We just monkeyed around in the gym.
2 : to handle secretly or in a careless or incorrect way He didn't want anyone monkeying with the cash register …— George Selden, The Cricket in Times Square

monkey

noun
mon·​key | \ ˈməŋ-kē How to pronounce monkey (audio) \

Medical Definition of monkey

: a nonhuman primate mammal with the exception usually of the lemurs and tarsiers especially : any of the smaller longer-tailed primates as contrasted with the apes

More from Merriam-Webster on monkey

Nglish: Translation of monkey for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of monkey for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about monkey

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!