noun, plural monkeys.
any mammal of the order Primates, including the guenons, macaques, langurs, and capuchins, but excluding humans, the anthropoid apes, and, usually, the tarsier and prosimians. Compare New World monkey, Old World monkey.
the fur of certain species of such long-haired animals.
a person likened to such an animal, as a mischievous, agile child or a mimic.
a dance, deriving from the twist, in which the partners move their hands as if climbing a pole and jerk their heads back and forth.
Slang. an addiction to narcotics.
any of various mechanical devices, as the ram of a pile driver.
Coal Mining. a small passageway or opening.
British Slang. the sum of 500 pounds.
Australian Informal. a sheep.
verb (used without object), monkeyed, monkeying.
Informal. to play or trifle idly; fool (often followed by around or with ).
verb (used with object), monkeyed, monkeying.
to imitate; ape; mimic.
to mock.
a monkey on one's back, Slang.
an addiction to a drug or drugs; narcotic dependency.
an enduring and often vexing habit or urge.
a burdensome problem, situation, or responsibility; personal affliction or hindrance.
make a monkey out of, to cause to appear ridiculous; make a fool of. Also, make a monkey of.

1520–30; apparently < Low German; compare Middle Low German Moneke (name of son of Martin the Ape in the story of Reynard), equivalent to mone- (akin to obsolete French monne she-ape, Spanish, Portuguese mono ape) + -ke diminutive suffix

monkeyish, adjective
monkeyishly, adverb
monkeyishness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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World English Dictionary
monkey (ˈmʌŋkɪ)
1.  Old World monkey See New World monkey any of numerous long-tailed primates excluding the prosimians (lemurs, tarsiers, etc): comprise the families Cercopithecidae (Old World monkeys), Cebidae (New World monkeys), and Callithricidae (marmosets)Related: simian
2.  any primate except man
3.  a naughty or mischievous person, esp a child
4.  the head of a pile-driver (monkey engine) or of some similar mechanical device
5.  (modifier) nautical denoting a small light structure or piece of equipment contrived to suit an immediate purpose: a monkey foresail; a monkey bridge
6.  slang (US), (Canadian) an addict's dependence on a drug (esp in the phrase have a monkey on one's back)
7.  slang a butt of derision; someone made to look a fool (esp in the phrase make a monkey of)
8.  slang (esp in bookmaking) £500
9.  slang (US), (Canadian) $500
10.  slang, archaic (Austral) a sheep
11.  slang (Brit) give a monkey's to care about or regard as important: who gives a monkey's what he thinks?
12.  (intr; usually foll by around, with, etc) to meddle, fool, or tinker
13.  rare (tr) to imitate; ape
Related: simian
[C16: perhaps from Low German; compare Middle Low German Moneke name of the ape's son in the tale of Reynard the Fox]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1530, likely from an unrecorded M.L.G. *moneke or M.Du. *monnekijn, a colloquial word for "monkey," originally a dim. of some Romanic word, cf. Fr. monne (16c.), O.It. monna, Sp. mona. In a 1498 Low Ger. version of the popular medieval beast story "Roman de Renart" ("Reynard the Fox"), Moneke is the
name given to the son of Martin the Ape. The O.Fr. form of the name is Monequin (recorded as Monnekin in a 14c. version from Hainault), which could be a dim. of some personal name, or it could be from the general Romanic word, which may be ult. from Arabic maimun "monkey," lit. "auspicious," a euphemistic usage because the sight of apes was held by the Arabs to be unlucky. The word would have been influenced in It. by folk-etymology from monna "woman," a contraction of ma donna "my lady." Monkey has been used affectionately for "child" since 1605. As a type of modern popular dance, it is attested from 1964. Monkeyshines is first recorded 1832, Amer.Eng.; monkey business attested from 1883. Monkey suit "fancy uniform" is from 1886. Monkey wrench is attested from 1858; its fig. sense of "Something that obstructs operations" is from the notion of one getting jammed in the gears of machinery (cf. spanner in the works). To make a monkey of someone is attested from 1900. To have a monkey on one's back "be addicted" is 1930s narcotics slang, though the same phrase in the 1860s meant "to be angry." There is a story in the Sinbad cycle about a tormenting ape-like creature that mounts a man's shoulders and won't get off, which may be the root of the term. In 1890s British slang, to have a monkey up the chimney meant "to have a mortgage on one's house." The three wise monkeys ("see no evil," etc.) are attested from 1926.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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