Green’s Dictionary of Slang

monkey n.

also monky

1. [late 16C+] a scamp, a rascal [now SE].

2. a practitioner or a worker.

(a) [late 17C] a playhouse girl or prostitute.

(b) [late 19C–1900s] as used by artisans or manual labourers, a clerk.

(c) [20C+] (US) a person who acts as, works as, or is responsible for something, usu. a workman; used in combs., e.g. bridge monkey, a bridge builder.

(d) [1910s–30s] (US) a chorus-girl or a taxi-dancer, a dancehall hostess who charges ten cents a dance to all-comers; thus monkey show

(e) [1920s–40s] (US black) the leader of a band or orchestra [the on-stage cavorting or their monkey suit n.].

(f) [1930s–40s] (US) one who washes dishes in a restaurant, café etc.

(g) [1930s–40s] (US Und.) a prohibition agent.

(h) [1940s+] (US prison) a correctional officer.

(i) (Aus.) a jockey.

3. an inanimate object.

(a) [19C] a small bustle [? the image of a baby monkey clinging to its mother’s back].

(b) [early 19C–1950s] (UK Und.) a padlock [ety. unknown; but note SE monkey, ‘applied to various machines and implements’ (OED)].

(c) [mid-19C] a flask, esp. as used to carry liquor on hunting expeditions [? backform. f. suck the monkey under suck v.1 ].

(d) [mid-19C–1910s] (Aus./N.Z.) a mortgage.

4. in derog. senses.

(a) [19C+] a general insult, esp. when used derog. since mid-19C by white people of a black or Asian person; also attrib.

(b) [20C+] (Aus./US, also monkey man) a Chinese person; a Mongolian; any East Asian person.

(c) [1900s–40s] (US black) a West Indian.

(d) [1910s+] (Aus./US) a Japanese person; also attrib.

(e) [1910s+] (also chimpanzee) a thug, spec. one with no intelligence; also attrib.

(f) [1970s+] (US black) a white person.

5. [19C+] a person, with no derog. overtones.

6. [mid-19C–1930s] (later use US black) ill temper, tetchiness; usu. as get one’s monkey up [? characteristics of the animal].

7. [mid-19C+] (also monk) £500, A$500 [ety. unknown].

8. (Aus.) £50 [poss. an error].

9. [late 19C–1950s] (Aus.) a sheep; also attrib.

10. the genitals.

(a) [late 19C+] (Aus./US) the vagina [? punning abbr. monkey business n.].

(b) [1980s+] (US campus) the penis.

11. a gullible person.

(a) [1920s] (US tramp) a member of the public, a non-tramp.

(b) [1920s+] (US Und.) a victim of a swindler, a dupe.

12. in drug uses [abbr. monkey on one’s back n.].

(a) [1930s+] (drugs) any form of narcotics addiction, usu. of heroin, morphine; thus the withdrawal symptoms that attend a lack of the drug.

(b) [1960s–70s] (drugs) morphine.

(c) [1970s] (US black/drugs) a drug addict (who is irredeemably ‘hooked’).

(d) [1980s+] (drugs) a cigarette made from cocaine paste and tobacco.

13. [1980s+] (US campus) ‘the other woman’, ‘the other man’, i.e. the individual with whom one’s partner is having an affair [such a person ‘climbs all over’ their partner].

In compounds

monkey bait (n.)

[1950s+] (drugs) free samples of addictive drugs.

monkey-dodger (n.)

[1900s–40s] a sheep-station hand; thus monkey-dodging, mustering sheep.

monkey drill (n.)

[1950s] (drugs) a hypodermic syringe.

monkey dust (n.) [dust n. (5e)] [1970s+] (drugs)

1. phencyclidine.

2. morphine.

monkey house (n.)

1. [1900s–60s] (US) a psychiatric institution.

2. [1950s] (US drugs) an opium den.

monkey jumps (n.)

[1950s] (drugs) the staggering and twitching of one who is addicted to narcotics.

monkey-juice (n.)

[2000s] semen.

monkey man (n.)

1. [1920s–60s] (US black) a weak man, usu. one dominated by his wife or girlfriend.

2. [1920s–60s] (US black) rarely, a West Indian immigrant.

3. [1950s] (N.Z.) one who provides a mortgage [note Ware (1909): ‘Monkey on the house (Soc.). Expression current in Cambridgeshire. It means that the owner of the house has raised money on it. The natives also say, “A monkey on the land”, the word “monkey” being exactly equivalent to “mortgage”’].

4. [1980s+] (W.I.) a large, unintelligent man.

5. see sense 4b above.

monkey meat (n.)

1. [1910s+] (orig. US milit.) canned corned beef.

2. [1950s–70s] (drugs) a heavily intoxicated drug user.

monkey medicine (n.)

[1950s] (drugs) morphine.

monkey rum (n.)

[1940s–70s] (US) West Indian rum.

monkey spanner (n.)

[2000s] the penis.

monkey track (n.)

[1960s] the scarred veins that are the product of and indicate heroin addiction.

monkey wagon (n.)

[1960s] (US) an estate car, a ‘family’ car.

monkey work (n.)

[late 19C–1960s] (US) trickery, mischief.

In phrases

feed one’s/the monkey (v.)

1. [1950s+] (drugs, also scratch one’s/the monkey) to maintain one’s addiction to narcotics.

2. [1970s+] (US gay, also feed someone’s monkey) to have sexual intercourse with a woman.

get one’s monkey up (v.) (also have one’s monkey up)

[early–mid-19C+] to lose one’s temper, to get into a bad temper; thus my monkey’s up, I am very annoyed.

get someone’s monkey up (v.) (also have someone’s monkey up)

[mid-19C–1920s] to annoy someone, to infuriate someone.

get the monkeys (v.)

[1910s] to have feelings of irritation.

give someone the monkeys (v.)

[1930s] to annoy, to distress.

kill the monkey (v.)

[1990s+] to end an addiction to narcotics.

monkey on one’s back (n.)

see separate entry.

riding the monkey

[mid-19C] of a shopkeeper, e.g. a grocer, defrauding customers by affixing some form of hidden weight to one’s scales, thus giving short weight.

slap the monkey (v.)

[1990s+] to masturbate.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

monkeyback (n.) [monkey suit n.]

[1920s] (US black) a man who dresses in formal dinner wear, a dude.

monkey bite (n.)

[1940s+] (US) a love-bite.

monkey board (n.)

[mid–late 19C] the step on a bus on which the conductor stands.

monkey business (n.)

see separate entry.

monkey cage (n.)

[20C+] (Can./US Und.) a prison cell.

monkey-chaser (n.)

1. [1910s–30s] (US) a man who frequents taxi-dances [sense 2d].

2. [1920s+] (US black) a West Indian.

3. [1950s] (US) a cocktail composed of gin and ice, with a little sugar and a trace of water.

monkey clothes (n.) [monkey suit n.]

1. [1900s–30s] (US) men’s dress or evening wear.

2. [1920s] (US Und.) uniform or plain clothes, as worn by policemen.

monkey dick (n.) [dick n.1 (5)] (US)

1. [1960s+] a frankfurter sausage.

2. [1980s+] a contemptible person.

monkey-face (n.)

see separate entry.

monkey fart (n.) (also monkey shit) [fart n. (1)]

[20C+] (W.I.) utter rubbish, absolute nonsense.

monkey farting (n.)

[1960s+] (orig. Can.) playing around, ‘messing about’, wasting time.

monkey-fuck (v.)

[1990s+] to light one cigarette from the tip of another.

monkey hat (n.)

[1950s] (US) a hat worn by someone preparing food, as in a sandwich bar.

monkey iron (n.) [it is very tough to chew]

[1950s] (W.I.) a sweetmeat made of coconut boiled with sugar.

monkey jacket (n.) [predates monkey suit n.]

1. [late 18C+] a short, close-fitting jacket, worn by either sex.

2. [1900s] (Aus.) a topcoat.

3. [1940s+] a dinner jacket.

monkey Jesus (n.)

[1940s] (W.I.) a very ugly person.

monkey-lip (n.) (also monkey-shave)

[1900s] (Aus.) a form of beard typically worn by puritans and evangelicals; thus monkey-shaven adj.

monkey lotion (n.)

[1990s+] (W.I.) acid that is thrown on someone resulting in burns and disfiguration.

monkey money (n.)

1. [1910s–30s] (US) any foreign currency.

2. [1930s] (US tramp) tokens issued instead of cash to be used in a specific shop.

3. [1940s] (UK Und.) counterfeit coins.

4. [1990s+] (W.I.) a small, insignificant sum of money.

monkey nut (n.)

[1990s+] (US drugs) a given measure of crack cocaine.

monkey nuts (n.)

1. [20C+] (US prison) prison-cooked meatballs.

2. [2000s] a very small amount.

monkey parade (n.) (also monkeys’ parade)

[late 19C–1910s] the evening promenade up and down a main thoroughfare by (Cockney) young people in search of flirtation.

monkey piss (n.) [piss n. (1)]

[1970s] (US) weak beer or bad wine.

monkey root (v.) [var. on monkey-fuck ]

[1980s+] (Aus. prison) to light one cigarette from the tip of another.

monkey’s... (n.)

see also separate entries.

monkey’s allowance (n.)

[late 18C–19C] a minimum of payment and a maximum of harsh treatment, usu. ‘translated’ as ‘more kicks than halfpence’.

monkey shine

see separate entries.

monkey show (n.) (also monkey hop) [monkey suit n.]

[1910s–30s] (US) a taxi-dance or burlesque show.

monkey’s tail (n.)

[early–mid-19C] (orig. naut.) a short crowbar.

monkey stick (n.)

[1940s] a malacca cane, as used by a dandy.

monkey suit (n.)

see separate entry.

monkey’s wedding (n.)

[1940s+] (S.Afr.) a situation of alternating or simultaneous sunshine and rain [fig. use of monkey’s wedding (breakfast), a presumably chaotic occasion (used as such in parts of US), ? ult. synon. Port. casamento de rapôsa, a vixen’s wedding].

monkey swill (n.)

[1920s–30s] US cheap liquor, strong liquor, manufactured during US Prohibition.

monkey tie (n.)

[1940s] (S.Afr.) an especially gaudy tie.

monkey tricks (n.)

see separate entry.

In phrases

like a monkey on a stick (adj.)

[late 19C+] behaving in an eccentric, bizarre manner.

like a monkey with a tin tool (adj.)

[mid-19C] impudent, cheeky, self-satisfied.

make a monkey (out) of (v.)

1. [late 19C+] (orig. US) to make a fool of, to make someone look stupid.

2. [1950s] to destroy a theory.

monkey and parrot time (n.)

[late 19C–1900s] (US) an unhappy marriage, in which the two partners fight continually.

monkey on a gridiron (n.)

[1910s] a cyclist.

monkeys to junkies (n.) [studying mankind, from its origins as apes to junkie n.]

[1980s] (US campus) a course in anthropology.

play the monkey (v.)

1. [1900s] to play the fool.

2. [1940s] to malfunction.

not my monkey, not my circus

[2010s] (US campus) phr. indicating the speaker's disinterest .

throw a (monkey) wrench into (the machinery) (v.)

[20C+] (orig. US) to obstruct something deliberately, to go out of one’s way to wreck a plan or project; thus monkey-wrenching, this form of industrial sabotage, esp. performed by ecologists; monkey-wrencher, one who does this.

too much of the monkey (n.)

[late 19C] (Aus.) extreme, ‘asking too much’.

where the monkey puts his/the nuts (n.) (also where the monkey gathers his nuts, ...put the pineapple, ...shoves his/its/the nuts, …stuck his nuts, ...tucks the nuts)

[late 19C+] a euph. for the anus; usu. as a phr. of coarse dismissal, you can shove/put it/them where the monkey....