A monkey is a tropical, long-tailed animal known as a "primate." If you visit India or Sri Lanka, you're almost guaranteed to see monkeys, but don't monkey around with them.

Many monkeys live in trees, although some are ground-dwelling, and increasingly many live in urban areas, scavenging food and interacting with people. Monkeys are famously playful and mischievous, and because of this, monkey is a common diminutive (or fond nickname) for impish kids, and "monkey business" is foolishness or deceitful behavior. When you monkey around, or monkey with something, you fool about or fiddle with it.

Definitions of monkey
  1. noun
    any of various long-tailed primates (excluding the prosimians)
    see moresee less
    show 20 types...
    hide 20 types...
    Old World monkey, catarrhine
    of Africa or Arabia or Asia; having nonprehensile tails and nostrils close together
    New World monkey, platyrrhine, platyrrhinian
    hairy-faced arboreal monkeys having widely separated nostrils and long usually prehensile tails
    guenon, guenon monkey
    small slender African monkey having long hind limbs and tail and long hair around the face
    large agile arboreal monkey with long limbs and tail and white upper eyelids
    Erythrocebus patas, hussar monkey, patas
    reddish long-tailed monkey of west Africa
    large terrestrial monkeys having doglike muzzles
    short-tailed monkey of rocky regions of Asia and Africa
    slender long-tailed monkey of Asia
    colobus, colobus monkey
    arboreal monkey of western and central Africa with long silky fur and reduced thumbs
    Nasalis larvatus, proboscis monkey
    Borneo monkey having a long bulbous nose
    small soft-furred South American and Central American monkey with claws instead of nails
    Cebus capucinus, capuchin, ringtail
    monkey of Central America and South America having thick hair on the head that resembles a monk's cowl
    Aotus trivirgatus, douroucouli
    nocturnal monkey of Central America and South America with large eyes and thick fur
    howler, howler monkey
    monkey of tropical South American forests having a loud howling cry
    small arboreal monkey of tropical South America with long hair and bushy nonprehensile tail
    medium-sized tree-dwelling monkey of the Amazon basin; only New World monkey with a short tail
    titi, titi monkey
    small South American monkeys with long beautiful fur and long nonprehensile tail
    Ateles geoffroyi, spider monkey
    arboreal monkey of tropical America with long slender legs and long prehensile tail
    Saimiri sciureus, squirrel monkey
    small long-tailed monkey of Central American and South America with greenish fur and black muzzle
    woolly monkey
    large monkeys with dark skin and woolly fur of the Amazon and Orinoco basins
    type of:
    any placental mammal of the order Primates; has good eyesight and flexible hands and feet
  2. noun
    one who is playfully mischievous
    synonyms: imp, rapscallion, rascal, scalawag, scallywag, scamp
    see moresee less
    brat, holy terror, little terror, terror
    a very troublesome child
    type of:
    child, fry, kid, minor, nestling, nipper, shaver, small fry, tiddler, tike, tyke, youngster
    a young person of either sex
  3. verb
    do random, unplanned work or activities or spend time idly
    synonyms: mess around, monkey around, muck about, muck around, potter, putter, tinker
    see moresee less
    mess around, as in a liquid or paste
    type of:
    exert oneself by doing mental or physical work for a purpose or out of necessity
  4. verb
    play around with or alter or falsify, usually secretively or dishonestly
    synonyms: fiddle, tamper
    see moresee less
    type of:
    hold something in one's hands and move it
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week