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

The Philadelphia Zoo, the nation’s oldest, has installed a network of meshed-in pathways that allow gorillas, Siberian tigers, and saki monkeys to roam the campus — sometimes pausing to gaze at the humans strolling below. David Scharfenberg, BostonGlobe.com, "Did humans drive this polar bear insane?," 13 July 2018 There, monkeys are known to steal golf balls from the course, mistaking them for eggs, while leopards have also been spotted stalking the grounds of the Royal Nepal Golf Club. George Ramsay, CNN, "Pratima Sherpa: The meeting with Tiger Woods 'I'll never forget'," 1 June 2018 Not like how monkeys have been used in music videos before. Mark Elibert, Billboard, "U.K. Star Mist Talks U.S. Rap Influences, Putting His City of Birmingham on the Map & How Prison Changed Him for the Better," 22 May 2018 Human and horse skulls, a monkey skeleton and other specimens add variety. Susan Dunne, courant.com, "Yale's Cushing Library Is A Brainiac's Dream Come True," 2 May 2018 Or Brazilian capuchin monkeys that use heavy stones to smash hard nuts against flat boulders that serve as anvils. Jonathan Balcombe, Scientific American, "Fishes Use Problem-Solving and Invent Tools," 1 May 2017 In doing so, the monkeys became the first of their genus and the fourth of all nonhuman primates to enter the Stone Age, so to speak. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Did the Human Hand Evolve as a Lean Mean Bone-Smashing Machine?," 13 July 2018 The fact that Marcel the monkey is also under the illusion that 52 years of hurt are coming to an end shows how ingenious this meme is. SI.com, "It's Coming Home: 6 of the Best England World Cup Memes of the Summer So Far," 11 July 2018 The monkeys tend to live in small groups of four to 10 with a dominant male, adult females, and offspring. Laney Ruckstuhl, BostonGlobe.com, "At Franklin Park Zoo, visitors can now see a baby monkey," 20 June 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

4 Oct 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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