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[dong-kee, dawng-, duhng-] /ˈdɒŋ ki, ˈdɔŋ-, ˈdʌŋ-/
noun, plural donkeys.
the domestic ass, Equus asinus.
(since 1874) a representation of this animal as the emblem of the U.S. Democratic Party.
a stupid, silly, or obstinate person.
a woodworking apparatus consisting of a clamping frame and saw, used for cutting marquetry veneers.
Machinery. auxiliary:
donkey engine; donkey pump; donkey boiler.
1775-85; perhaps alteration of Dunkey, hypocoristic form of Duncan, man's name Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for donkeys
  • Though resembling donkeys, onagers are desert-dwelling members of the horse family.
  • Camels munch on green shrubs outside town, and donkeys drink puddles of muddy water.
  • Boys with pushcarts scurried past donkeys laden with wares.
  • Wood blithely offered to help and eventually delivered a mountain of books by a caravan of donkeys.
  • donkeys were rated less successful than guard dogs and llamas.
  • Our donkeys are healthy, friendly and well kept and our customers are always satisfied.
  • We treat our donkeys with the best care they can get.
  • Describes the use of dogs, llamas and donkeys to protect sheep from predation.
  • Mules are the result of mating between horses and donkeys.
  • All the other donkeys from around the countryside gathered there.
British Dictionary definitions for donkeys


Also called ass. a long-eared domesticated member of the horse family (Equidae), descended from the African wild ass (Equus asinus)
a stupid or stubborn person
(Brit, slang, derogatory) a footballer known for his or her lack of skill: the players are a bunch of overpriced and overrated donkeys
talk the hind leg(s) off a donkey, to talk endlessly
Word Origin
C18: perhaps from dun dark + -key, as in monkey
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for donkeys



1785, originally slang, perhaps a diminutive from dun "dull gray-brown," the form perhaps influenced by monkey. Or possibly from a familiar form of Duncan (cf. dobbin). The older English word was ass (n.1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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donkeys in Culture

donkey definition

A symbol of the Democratic party, introduced in a series of political cartoons by Thomas Nast during the congressional elections of 1874. (Compare elephant.)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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