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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for monkey

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 Over the past decade, Iran has sent several short-lived satellites into orbit and in 2013 launched a monkey into space. CBS News, "Iran admits rocket exploded after technical malfunction," 2 Sep. 2019 Over the past decade, Iran has sent several short-lived satellites into orbit and in 2013 launched a monkey into space. Jon Gambrell, Anchorage Daily News, "Satellite photos show apparent rocket explosion Iranian launch pad," 29 Aug. 2019 Genevieve, then 15, received emergency hospital treatment for a bite to her right wrist from a capuchin monkey named Boo, her mother's attorney, Marc Naron, said Thursday. Ken Ritter, chicagotribune.com, "Wayne Newton sued over monkey biting girl visiting his home," 9 Aug. 2019 Back in March 2017, Evra posted a video on Instagram of him kissing a monkey. Because, why not? SI.com, "Patrice Evra: 8 of the Craziest Moments From Mr 'I Love This Game' After His Retirement," 29 July 2019 Photographs of Obama wearing a loincloth with a bone in his nose and Michelle Obama depicted as a monkey. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Your Say: Racism in America," 26 July 2019 And in a seemingly spontaneous answer to a question, Musk revealed that the company has already used its device to allow a monkey to control a computer with its brain. Kelly Servick, Science | AAAS, "Elon Musk’s startup eyes human testing for brain-computer interface," 17 July 2019 One, in particular, is so fail-proof that even a monkey with scissors could do it. Roxie Jane Hunt, refinery29.com, "How To Cut Your Own Hair At Home," 18 June 2019 Critics, however, eventually showed that the claim was premature, as power laws show up in random systems, too — such as the word frequencies produced by a monkey at a typewriter. Quanta Magazine, "Do Brains Operate at a Tipping Point? New Clues and Complications," 10 June 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 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. Washington Post, "iPhone 11 first look: That’s an awful lot of cash for a camera," 10 Sep. 2019 Back in 2017, Knibbs recounted accusations of monkeying with the star system, of rigged contests (and changed prizes), and of moderators scrubbing any unflattering comments about Renner. Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, "Jeremy Renner’s Strange Summer," 6 Sep. 2019 Prince Harry is committed to conservation efforts around the world, focusing much of his work in Africa Prince Harry is just monkeying around! The royal headed to Dr. Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots Global Leadership Meeting on Tuesday. Stephanie Petit, PEOPLE.com, "Prince Harry Reenacts a 'Chimp Greeting' with Dr. Jane Goodall — See the Hilarious Moment!," 23 July 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on monkey

What made you want to look up monkey? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a calculated move

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Confusing Words—A Quiz

  • alice with tweedle dee and tweedle dum
  • I invented a brand new toaster robot and ______ it "Sir Toasts-a-Lot."
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!