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mon·key (mŭngkē)
Share:
n. pl. mon·keys
1.
a. Any of various tailed primates of the suborder Anthropoidea, including the macaques, baboons, capuchins, and marmosets, and excluding the apes.
b. A nonhuman ape. Not in scientific use.
2. One who behaves in a way suggestive of a monkey, as a mischievous child or a mimic.
3. The iron block of a pile driver.
4. Slang A person who is mocked, duped, or made to appear a fool: They made a monkey out of him.
5. Offensive Slang Used as a disparaging term for a person with dark skin.
v. mon·keyed, mon·key·ing, mon·keys
v. intr.
Informal
1. To play, fiddle, trifle, or tamper with something: Who was monkeying with my phone?
2. To behave in a mischievous or apish manner: Stop monkeying around!
v. tr.
To imitate or mimic; ape.
Idiom:
monkey on one's back
1. An addiction to a drug.
2. An object of persistent worry or obsession.

[Perhaps ultimately from Middle Low German Moneke, name of a young ape in the beast epic Reynke de Vos (“Reynard the Fox”), shortening of Simoneke, diminutive (used in punning reference to Latin sīmia, ape, monkey; see SIMIAN) of the Middle High German name Simon (equivalent to English Simeon and Simon).]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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