Monkey business

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Monkey business is an idiom dating to the 1800s. We will examine the meaning of the idiom monkey business, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Monkey business may refer to a silly waste of time or effort; it may mean partaking in shenanigans, mischief, or horseplay. However, monkey business may also refer to more a dishonest act or immoral conduct. For instance, a child who plays the clown in class may be said to be instigating monkey business. On the other hand, an accountant who is hiding losses in a company’s books may also may be said to be up to some monkey business. The expression monkey business came into use in the mid-1800s and has been traced to the expression in Sanskrit, vānara-karman, which may translate as monkey action or monkey work.


The monkey business allegedly occurred Saturday after the 20-year-old computer science student awoke at 11 a.m. to discover that his smartphone was gone, reports the BBC. (The New York Post)

The popular vote should be given a chance to be counted, and there should be no monkey business in the Electoral College with electors ignoring the will of the people. (Terre Haute Tribune Star)

County commissioners will entertain a public hearing about some monkey business during their June 15 meeting. (The Mountaineer)