monkey

noun
mon·​key | \ˈməŋ-kē \
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

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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

References to African Americans as apes and monkeys have long been invoked to dehumanize them and justify their treatment as second-class citizens. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "Republican Ron DeSantis says electing black opponent Andrew Gillum would “monkey this up”," 29 Aug. 2018 Ebola, first identified in the country in 1976, jumps to humans from animals including bats and monkeys. Al-hadji Kudra Maliro, The Seattle Times, "Congo health ministry preps for possible Ebola vaccinations," 6 Aug. 2018 Ebola, first identified in the country in 1976, jumps to humans from animals including bats and monkeys. Fox News, "Ebola outbreak in Congo grows; at least 3 killed," 5 Aug. 2018 As this story suggests, there can be a striking similarity between works of abstract expressionism and paintings by children—or even by chimps, monkeys and elephants. Ellen Winner, WSJ, "Could Your Child Really Paint That?," 19 Oct. 2018 More distant relatives like monkeys and lemurs are quite brainy, too. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "The evolutionary mystery of gigantic human brains," 23 Aug. 2018 The expansion also includes a new nocturnal house, with night-loving species like Seba and vampire bats, night monkeys and zebra tarantulas. Jennifer Larino, NOLA.com, "What's a cavy? You can now see 3 of them at the Audubon Zoo," 22 May 2018 The region is known for its diverse animal and marine life, including sloths, monkeys and turtles. Rosemary Mcclure, latimes.com, "Central America cruise visits Costa Rica, journeys through the Panama Canal," 18 May 2018 Yellow fever typically circulates in forests or jungles, between monkeys and mosquitoes, but spillover into humans can happen when people enter these areas and get bitten by jungle mosquitoes, which carry the virus. Julia Belluz, Vox, "A global uptick in yellow fever cases is coinciding with a vaccine shortage.," 19 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Vieux Carre home owners and hoteliers have traditionally applied grease to the poles to prevent such monkeying around. Doug Maccash, NOLA.com, "Greasing of the Poles: The slippery Mardi Gras ceremony is Feb. 9," 25 Jan. 2018 But there’s no stopping the construction now, so signing Kaepernick would not monkey-wrench the stadium. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, "Colin Kaepernick a phone call away from being Raiders’ backup QB," 20 Jan. 2018 Last year our smokestacks and tailpipes puffed out more than 60 trillion pounds of the greenhouse gas, monkeying with the planet’s climate and acidifying the oceans. NBC News, "Can a Carbon 'Vacuum Cleaner' Save the Planet?," 1 Nov. 2017 Not seeing too many Kobe’s here at Electric Zoo as Bad Royale aren’t monkeying around with an energetic mix of electro, dub and dancehall. Ryan Middleton, Billboard, "Electric Zoo 2017 Day 1 Highlights: DJ Snake, Galantis, Sasha & John Digweed and More," 2 Sep. 2017 Many generations of monkeying around ensued, aided by the relative lack of natural predators (other than alligators, which often eat young, naïve primates on the riverbanks). Tamara Lush, chicagotribune.com, "Monkey troupe vexes Florida park, goes viral on social media," 11 July 2017 There’s very little Congress can do that people take more personally than monkeying around with healthcare. Cathleen Decker, latimes.com, "Vulnerable House Republicans fear political consequences after healthcare vote," 5 May 2017 Again, negotiators might monkey around a bit with the formula for how rapidly the Obamacare Medicaid expansion is killed and how deeply the long-term Medicaid cap would bite. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Here Are the Ways the GOP’s Senate Health Care Bill Won’t Be Getting Any Less Mean," 22 June 2017 Why do thriving sports feel the need to monkey around with their product? George Vecsey, New York Times, "Soccer and Baseball Just Can’t Leave Well Enough Alone," 10 Feb. 2017

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.

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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

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Statistics for monkey

Last Updated

29 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for monkey

The first known use of monkey was circa 1530

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More Definitions for monkey

monkey

noun

English Language Learners Definition of monkey

: a type of animal that is closely related to apes and humans and that has a long tail and usually lives in trees

: a person (especially a child) who causes trouble in a playful way

monkey

noun
mon·​key | \ˈməŋ-kē \
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 \

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on monkey

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with monkey

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for monkey

Spanish Central: Translation of monkey

Nglish: Translation of monkey for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of monkey for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about monkey

Comments on monkey

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