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

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Synonyms for monkey

Synonyms: Noun

addiction, dependence (also dependance), habit, jones [slang]

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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 singer peed in a bucket at a restaurant, tried to illegally bring his pet monkey into Europe (it was detained at the airport because Justin didn't have the proper paperwork), and he was caught visiting a brothel in Brazil. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Wait, Justin Bieber Visited A Brothel In Brazil When He Was Just 19-Years-Old?!," 7 Feb. 2019 Ever wonder what goes into preparing a Christmas when our favorite fictitious monkey is in charge? Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Christmas Movies on Netflix You Can Stream During the Holidays," 19 Dec. 2018 Like humans, chimps make and use tools; join together in groups to hunt animals like monkeys; defend group territories; and sometimes gang up on and kill their enemies. Michael Wilson, Smithsonian, "What Can Chimpanzee Calls Tell Us About the Origins of Human Language?," 10 May 2018 The early humans living in these caves would have forested for berries and hunted smaller animals like monkeys and small deer. Nick Whigham, Fox News, "Archaeologists uncover stunning find to help shed light on the dawn of mankind," 10 May 2018 Oh, and there was the unfortunate capuchin monkey seized at customs in Germany. Rob Haskell, Vogue, "Justin and Hailey Bieber Open Up About Their Passionate, Not-Always-Easy but Absolutely All-In Romance," 7 Feb. 2019 In Olivier Tallec’s illustrations, Monkey wears a red baseball cap and is, well, a monkey. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: The Travails and Triumphs of Derring-Do," 22 Feb. 2019 In recent years, ceremonial first-pitchers have veered more toward spectacle than sport (think Kardashians, toddlers, Chewbacca, Miss Texas, even a real monkey). Malia Wollan, New York Times, "How to Throw Out a Ceremonial First Pitch," 3 July 2018 Foxes, snakes, birds, chickens, monkeys, cougars, and coyotes have all shown the ability to live in cities. Aditi Shrikant, BostonGlobe.com, "When wild animals urbanize," 13 July 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

14 Jun 2019

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

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

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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

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