[Ads-l] monkey in the middle (1952)

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 26 23:08:02 UTC 2020

The children's game "monkey in the middle" is in OED3 (Sept. 2002 update)
from 1980. Here are some cites from New Jersey newspapers in the '50s.

Belleville (NJ) Times, July 24, 1952, p. 6, col. 6
Mrs. Virtue, one of our directors, made up some five bean bags, and taught
us the game "monkey in the middle." It sure has had great success and is
enjoyed by youngsters of all ages.
Verona-Cedar Grove (NJ) Times, July 28, 1955, p. 2, col. 5
Despite the heat wave the children seemed to have quite an active week on
the Forest Avenue playground. Although checkers, kings, Chinese checkers.
Mad Maze, Lucky Shot and horseshoes were the most popular, there were still
some badminton, softball, dodge ball, spud and Monkey in the Middle games.
Courier-News (Plainfield, NJ), June 11, 1957, p. 25, col. 1
More than 200 children and their parents participated in the annual picnic
and field day of the Hebrew Institute held Sunday at Green Brook Park...
Awards in games were as follows: Relay -- Jay Cherlow, Jack Ruden, Larry
Sletzinger, Joel Taub, Jonathan Lippman, Mark Hitzig, Marilyn Siegel; nut
potato race, Jay Lichtenstein; Monkey in the Middle, Joy Herzog... [etc.]
The Millburn & Short Hills (NJ) Item, July 11, 1957, p. 6, col. 4
The middle age group have a variety of games: volley ball, relay races
(which are very exciting), giant steps, monkey in the middle, red light,
red rover, and checkers. The wee ones have two favorite games, which they
play constantly: Simon Says, and Duck, Duck, Goose.


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

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