Monday, March 7, 2011


Monkey \MUHNG-kee\
1. You know what a monkey is

This word dates to the 1520's and the etymology is uncertain, but there are a couple theories. I think one will surprise you:

It may have come from an unrecorded Middle Low German word, *moneke, or Middle Dutch *monnekijin. The Dutch word was a colloquial word for "monkey" that was originally a diminutive of some Romanic word that also spawned French monne, Old Italian monna, and others.

There was a 1498 Low German version of the medieval story 'Roman de Renart' (translation: 'Reynard the Fox') which had a character named Moneke, who is Martin the Ape in modern translations. The Old French form of that character is called Monequin or Monnekin, which may have been a diminutive of a personal name or a that mysterious Romanic word mentioned above.

If there was a now-forgotten Romanic word that eventually became monkey, it was likely ultimately derived from Arabic maimum ("monkey"). That word literally meant "auspicious", and since apes were unlucky in the Arab culture, the name stuck.

Nothing surprising yet? How about this: Inky Fool
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