phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Phrases, Sayings and Idioms Home > Discussion Forum

Re: "Monkey in the middle."

Posted by Brian from Shawnee on March 30, 2007

In Reply to: Re: "Monkey in the middle." posted by pamela on March 30, 2007

: : : : : : I have a friend that referred to playing keep away as playing "Monkey in the middle." She was shocked that I had never heard that used before, anyone have any ideas og where this came from? She is from upstate New York, maybe it's a regional thing?

: : : : : Is that the same as Pig in the Middle in England? - i.e. a game in which two or more people throw a ball around, while the player in the middle (the "pig") tries to catch it? (VSD)

: : : : I'd be shocked to meet a person who grew up in the U.S. who'd never heard of Monkey in the Middle, too. We played it in the 1960's in the metro N.Y. area, and my kids play it now out in the Poconos. I know that's culturally and geographically close to upstate New York, but a quick Google search shows the term is used far and wide.

: : : : Of course "keep away" is a different game. Ask any 8 year old boy. In Monkey (or Pig) in the Middle you have exactly two players trying to keep the ball away from one other player. You try to throw the ball over the monkey's head and he tries to jump up and grab it as it goes by. There is a linear structure and the monkey may protest if the other players move outside a certain area. Keep Away is more chaotic because you can use an entire field and have more than three players. Also the one you're keeping the ball away from isn't called the monkey.

: : : I grew up in California and never heard of M in the M. ~rb

: : I'm always shocked that people are shocked when words and phrases they grew up with are not known in other parts of the big, wide world. (I know it, therefore everyone knows it.) I suppose that's why people are so vehement in defense of their particular version of "I always heard it was" stroy about, e.g., the whole 9 yards: to be disabused of its truth is to have your own centrality and authenticity challenged. The ideal scientist loves to have his hypothesis dashed ... but most of us are less than ideal in that respect.

: "Piggy in the middle" is what we play in Australia - I've never heard the "monkey" version and "pig" in the middle sounds insulting (piggy sounds cute). Pamela

I've recovered from my shock over the limited distribution of the beautifully alliterative name "monkey in the middle", and I've moved on to curious. It's interesting that pig or piggy in the middle has made it from England to Australia (or vice-versa) but my dear monkey version hasn't yet found its way from the Atlantic to the Pacific in this modern age of ours. I'm going to investigate, and I'll get back to you...