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 aroundhe likes to monkey around with engines
b : tamper usually used with withdon't monkey with the settings

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Synonyms for monkey

Synonyms: Noun

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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 Of course, there are significant differences between Miller’s monkeys and humans who may be exposed to wildfire smoke. Eva Frederick, Science | AAAS, "What we don’t know about wildfire smoke is likely hurting us," 14 Feb. 2020 Recently, those have included a South American bush dog, a mustached monkey and a baby gazelle Gonyea helped bottle feed. Vincent T. Davis, ExpressNews.com, "Retired airman’s storied resume shines through at new job with San Antonio Zoo," 27 Jan. 2020 Each had an American name to use in the outside world, where they were often ostracized and called monkeys and savages. National Geographic, "https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2020/02/clotilda-americas-last-slave-ship-stole-them-from-home-it-couldnt-steal-their-identities-feature.html," 16 Jan. 2020 Getting blood samples from pigs or wild rodents is fairly routine, but catching birds, bats or monkeys alive is not. New York Times, "Scientists Were Hunting for the Next Ebola. Now the U.S. Has Cut Off Their Funding.," 25 Oct. 2019 Back in 2018, Prada put Pradamalia figurines — monkeys that looked like blackface — on display in its downtown New York store. Sara Radin, refinery29.com, "New York City Government Is Getting Involved With The Fashion Industry’s Race Problem," 5 Feb. 2020 The monkey figurine from the collection evoked images of Sambo, a caricature that, over generations, has been used to mock and dehumanize black people. Megan Cerullo, CBS News, "Miuccia Prada to get racism-sensitivity training after fashion faux pas," 5 Feb. 2020 The village now claims the trick has led to a drastic dip in monkey attacks, according to the outlet. Fox News, "Villagers in India dress up as bears to scare off more than 2,000 monkeys," 30 Jan. 2020 Good add-ons for travelers with more time include golden monkey sightings in Volcanoes, the new Mantis Kivu Queen cruise on Lake Kivu, and the Genocide Memorial and Campaign Against Genocide Museum in Kigali. National Geographic, "On the rise: 20 trending destinations for 2020," 29 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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, "Turns Out It's Really Easy to Trick Tesla's Autopilot With a Cheap Projector," 31 Jan. 2020 To make matters more confusing, Apple monkeyed around with the names of the new stuff. Geoffrey A. Fowler, The Denver Post, "First look at iPhone 11: That’s an awful lot of cash for a camera," 15 Sep. 2019 To make matters more confusing, Apple monkeyed around with the names of the new stuff. Geoffrey A. Fowler, The Denver Post, "First look at iPhone 11: That’s an awful lot of cash for a camera," 15 Sep. 2019 To make matters more confusing, Apple monkeyed around with the names of the new stuff. Geoffrey A. Fowler, The Denver Post, "First look at iPhone 11: That’s an awful lot of cash for a camera," 15 Sep. 2019 To make matters more confusing, Apple monkeyed around with the names of the new stuff. Geoffrey A. Fowler, The Denver Post, "First look at iPhone 11: That’s an awful lot of cash for a camera," 15 Sep. 2019 To make matters more confusing, Apple monkeyed around with the names of the new stuff. Geoffrey A. Fowler, The Denver Post, "First look at iPhone 11: That’s an awful lot of cash for a camera," 15 Sep. 2019 Wayne Newton‘s pet likely won’t be monkeying around any longer. Joelle Goldstein, PEOPLE.com, "Wayne Newton's Pet Monkey Allegedly Attacked a 15-Year-Old Girl," 9 Aug. 2019 To make matters more confusing, Apple monkeyed around with the names of the new stuff. Geoffrey A. Fowler, The Denver Post, "First look at iPhone 11: That’s an awful lot of cash for a camera," 15 Sep. 2019

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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Time Traveler for monkey

Time Traveler

The first known use of monkey was circa 1530

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Statistics for monkey

Last Updated

22 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Monkey.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/monkey. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for monkey

monkey

noun
How to pronounce monkey (audio)

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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Comments on monkey

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