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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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About this entry:
First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

MONKEY, n. Sc. usages:

1. Combs. and phr.: (1) monkey-chip, -chippie (Ayr.8 1963), a game of marbles (see quot.). Hence monkey-chipper, a marble used in the game; (2) monkey-faces, mimulus (Bnff., Abd. 1963); (3) monkey-hanger, a nickname current in Greenock for a Port Glasgow man (see quot.). Cf. (7); (4) monkey-mensed, silly, giddy, thoughtless. See Mense; (5) monkey's face, the sea-urchin, Spatangus purpureus (Lth. 1851 J. G. Dalyell Powers of Creator I. 133). See Man; (6) monkeys' moos, the yellow toad-flax, Linaria vulgaris (Abd.27 1948). Cf. (2); (7) monkey-waggon, see quot.; (8) to hang the monkey, to put in time on a job of work without really working at it (Rxb. 1963). Cf. (3).(1) Mry.1 1925:
Monkey Chip — A game at marbles: throw a marble against a wall so that it will rebound to a hole.
Abd. 1958 Press and Jnl. (22 Sept.):
Bools . . . with rosies, and peebles and picks and monkey-chippers and glessers.
(3) Rnf. 1929 F. C. Bowen Sea Slang 91:
Monkey-Hangers. Port Glasgow men, applied by their Greenock rivals. The story is that a party from Port Glasgow set out for Dumbarton to witness a hanging, but got drunk and missed the boat. So they seized an organ-grinder's monkey and consoled themselves with hanging that.
(4) Abd. 1827 J. Imlah May Flowers 9:
Lat glaiket Fasbion gang to France, Wi' monkey-mensed Munseer to prance.
(7) wm.Sc.1 1948–63:
A type of vehicle, with four wheels, for carrying long (but not tremendously long) loads is regularly known to carting contractors in this district as a monkey-waggon. In this the front axle has the usual swivelling arrangement and a pole fixed behind it. This pole passes through the back axle, which is flxed to it by a pin passing through both at the point in the pole appropriate to the length of the load being carried. The monkey-waggon thus has an adjustable wheel-base.
(8) Fif. 1954:
I was just hangin the monkey aa efternain.

2. A tool with a ratchet for tensing fencing wire (Arg.1 1937; m. and s.Sc. 1963).

3. A boy's toy (see quot.). Cf. Naut. Eng. monkey, a sailor's purse worn round the neck.Abd.13 1910:
Monkey: a boy's plaything made of an old cotton reel and a small bag with string attached. With this he collects slatepencil. He goes round the others saying: “Feed my monkey.” They put a little bit of slatepencil into the hole of the reel, the boy pulls the string and down it goes into the bag.

4. A bundle of material removed surreptitiously from one's work (wm.Sc. 1962). Cf. 3.Cld. 1957 Manchester Guardian (20 March):
Removal of timber or other material was strictly forbidden, yet almost everyone quite openly took home each night the bundle of firewood known to Clydesiders for some obscure reason as a “monkey”.

5. A round narrow-mouthed basket used by fishermen for holding bait; “a basket carried on the arm” (Fif. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 256).Fif. 1868 St. Andrews Gazette (11 July):
I had a basket, which is called a “monkey”, with me. It was an ordinary sized mussel basket.

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"Monkey n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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