[Ads-l] "Monkey this up"

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Aug 30 16:13:29 EDT 2018

"monkey wrench in the works" . . . Yes, that's what I meant to type.

It'd funnier if I weren't writing about someone else perhaps mangling an idiom.

My mind works faster than my typing fingers.

And as for the origin of "monkey wrench," I wrote a piece on it last year<https://esnpc.blogspot.com/2015/10/charles-monk-monkey-wrenches-and-monkey.html>.  Interestingly, there was, in fact, a "tool maker" named Charles Monkay (not Monk as the old-wives' tales generally say) who lived in Brooklyn, consistent with a commonly repeated origin story.  However, Charles Monkay made bricklaying tools - not wrenches - and in any case, the term "monkey wrench" pre-dates his birth, so he is an unlikely candidate.

And in a related vein, it's also not a racist slur against Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion of the world, who invented and received a patent for a particular type of wrench.

It's hard to say precisely what the "monkey" in monkey wrench referred to, but there is a plausible explanation that it refers to the movable piece on the wrench that moves up and down the shaft as the width is adjusted.  There were other such parts of different types of tools that were also referred to as a "monkey".



From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Andy Bach <afbach at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Thursday, August 30, 2018 1:02 PM
Subject: Re: "Monkey this up"

---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Poster:       Andy Bach <afbach at GMAIL.COM>
Subject:      Re: "Monkey this up"

> I would have just thought it was a normal mash-up, intentional or not, of
"muck up" and "throw a monkey in the works".

We used "a monkey wrench" when throwing in things mess up the process.
Yes, and I know it's named for it's inventor ... or maybe I don't
It has been suggested that the *monkey *in *monkey wrench* is an alteration
(folk etymology) of the inventor=E2=80=99s name, a certain Charles Moncky o=
Baltimore who allegedly invented it 1858. Unfortunately for this
explanation, the term is British in origin and predates Moncky by some

I always thought a pipe wrench sort of looked a bit like a monkey.

On Thu, Aug 30, 2018 at 2:56 PM Peter Reitan <pjreitan at hotmail.com> wrote:

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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