There are lots of idioms and slang expressions about monkeys. Unfortunately most have negative meanings. Perhaps the monkey is not a very popular animal! All of the expressions are informal. The idioms with ‘slang’ next to them are very informal and usually only used with close friends.
Monkey around (This is used as a phrasal verb)
= to be silly & waste time.
‘Stop monkeying around we need to finish cleaning the house in time for the party.’
‘Every time he goes to the toy shop he monkeys around, playing with all the toys and riding the scooters. And his children are just as bad!’
= ‘To go ape’ is to get very angry or very excited about something or somebody.
‘As we got to the beach, the kids went ape. They were so excited, hopefully they will sleep tonight!’
‘The man went ape when someone drove their car into his garden wall.’
Make a monkey out of someone
= To make a monkey out of someone is to make them look silly or stupid.
‘The manager made a monkey out of me, shouting at me in front of everyone. He really embarrassed me today.
Speak to the organ grinder not the monkey (slang)
= This expression can sound quite offensive. It means that you want to deal with someone with more authority than the person you are speaking to (usually because you have a complaint about something).
‘He was so angry at the bad service in the restaurant he demanded to ‘speak to the organ grinder not the monkey’ when the waiter told him to leave.’
Grease monkey (American) (slang)
A name for someone who works with engines, such as a car mechanic.
Got a monkey on my back (American and Australian slang)
= If someone has ‘a monkey on their back’ they have a problem that is difficult for them to solve.
‘The problem with the bank is a real monkey on my back.’
= Monkey business is what you are doing when you waste time being silly.
‘What is all this monkey business? Stop that and clean up that mess now!’
Freezing brass monkeys (British slang)
= freezing cold
‘Don’t forget your scarf and gloves. It’s freezing brass monkeys out today?’
Not give a monkey’s about something (British and Australian slang)
= not care about something
‘I couldn’t give a monkey’s what you think. I’m going to enter X Factor!’
More fun than a barrel of monkeys (American slang)
Describes something that is a lot of fun
= A ‘cheeky monkey’ is someone who is being cheeky or a little bit rude/impolite but in a funny way.
‘You’re such a cheeky monkey!’
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