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 The elephants would come through twice a day, the hippos every night, and the monkeys were never far away. New York Times, "In Search of Zambia’s Stunning Wildlife: A Virtual Safari," 31 Mar. 2020 The third monkey was used as a control variable in the study. Amanda Morris, azcentral, "How long can the new coronavirus live on surfaces? Can you be reinfected? COVID-19: Ask-An-Expert," 28 Mar. 2020 Apparently the monkey was owned by someone who lived at a nearby apartment complex. Meagan Hurley, Dallas News, "‘Tiger King’ reminds us of Dallas’ past experiences with exotic animals," 26 Mar. 2020 Since then, the monkeys have continued to reproduce unchecked. Carlos E. Medina And Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY, "Herpes-carrying monkeys brought to Florida for tourism may multiply out of control," 25 Feb. 2020 Once the monkeys are no longer useful for the tests, they are killed. Carlin Becker, Washington Examiner, "NIH releases footage of 'horrific' taxpayer-funded primate experiments after lawsuit," 25 Feb. 2020 Stories in local media had warned about the monkeys that inhabit the landmark and pester tourists for food and, on occasion, menace both visitors and slingshot-carrying security guards. Jill Colvin, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump’s visit to India prioritizes pageantry over policy," 24 Feb. 2020 Primatologists theorize that the monkeys do this as a way to tell any potential intruders that their territory is very much occupied—or possibly as a way to guard their mates. Jessica Boddy, Popular Science, "Ranked: the loudest sounds ever measured," 3 Feb. 2020 During a cage change, a staff member placed the monkey in one that had not been modified. Laura Garcia, ExpressNews.com, "Report: 2 monkeys died, 2 injured at Texas Biomed in 2019," 8 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

4 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Monkey.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/monkey. Accessed 4 Apr. 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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