n. pl. mon·keys
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
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!
To imitate or mimic; ape.
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.
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