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

Alice Faber afaber at PANIX.COM
Mon Jan 27 18:11:31 UTC 2020

I remember both Monkey in the Middle and Keep-Away from my NYC suburb 
late-50s early-60s playground experience. This may be my memory trying 
to impose a rules-distinction to go with the lexical distinction, but, 
in my hazy memory, Monkey in the Middle was more regimented and 
Keep-Away was more freeform.


On 1/27/20 12:04 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:
> Never heard of "monkey in the middle," before. However, like Mark, I am
> unfortunately familiar with "keep-away" from my early grade-school years,
> During The War, ca.1943-1945.
> BTW, is monkey in the middle a variant of "man in the middle"?
> On Mon, Jan 27, 2020 at 12:52 AM Mark Mandel <markamandel at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I do not like the memories this brings up in me.
>> I knew the expression all too well as a schoolboy in New York in the 1960s.
>> After school some of my classmates would play this "game" (also called
>> "keep-away") with my hat or other possession snatched from me, yelling
>> "Monkey in the middle!" as they threw my property to each other over my
>> head and I ran frantically between them, trying in vain to reach one of
>> them before they could throw it out of my reach.
>> MAM
>> On Sun, Jan 26, 2020, 6:08 PM Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> 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.
>>> ---
>>> https://www.newspapers.com/clip/43065809/monkey_in_the_middle/
>>> 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.
>>> ---
>>> https://www.newspapers.com/clip/43065650/monkey_in_the_middle/
>>> 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.
>>> ---
>>> https://www.newspapers.com/clip/43053896/monkey_in_the_middle/
>>> 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.]
>>> ---
>>> https://www.newspapers.com/clip/43059206/monkey_in_the_middle/
>>> 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.
>>> ---
>>> --bgz
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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