Monkeying Around

Monley-Aug-5-BlogThis week I was contemplating writing about monkeys. Two phrases came to mind – monkey business and brass monkeys. Then I got to thinking about how often animals are used in expressions. I set myself a challenge to see how many I could think of without looking them up. Below are just a few of them.


  • Has the cat got your tongue?
  • It’s raining cats and dogs
  • I’ll take the lion’s share
  • She’s going to chicken out
  • Have you got ants in your pants?
  • They’re dropping like flies
  • Straight from the horse’s mouth
  • Until the cows come home
  • I made a beeline for the cake
  • Smell a rat
  • My brother is an eager beaver
  • Horses-Aug-5Hold your horses!
  • There’s something fishy going on
  • He’s in the dog house this week
  • Who let the cat out of the bag?
  • When the cat’s away, the mice will play
  • She’s the black sheep of the family
  • That really gets my goat!
  • He cried wolf
  • He’s like a bull in a china shop
  • The elephant in the room
  • I had a whale of a time
  • She made a mountain out of a molehill

Can you think of others? You could make it into a game – see if you can go through the alphabet starting at A and ending with Z using animal idioms. Some of those listed above have obvious meanings, but others are strange. To get one’s goat – how did that come about? It means to become irritated or cross about something. Why a goat and why are we ‘getting’ it? A quick look on the internet and its origins are unknown, with many suggestions. My favourite is this one.

Goats were placed with racehorses to keep them calm. Ne’er-do-wells who wanted the horse to race badly removed the goat, that is, they ‘got someone’s goat’. The horse became unsettled and ran badly.

It makes sense – at least if it’s at all true!

We have a KS1 quiz about monkeys that is more fun than a barrel of monkeys! Enjoy.

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