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Monkey Say (See?), Monkey Do

Posted by R. Berg on November 30, 2002

In Reply to: Monkey Say, Monkey Do posted by S Maddock on November 30, 2002

: Has anyone heard, or know the meaning of this phrase?

"Monkey see, monkey do" is a traditional phrase used for commenting on someone's (often a child's) tendency to imitate whatever he or she sees someone else doing. Eric Partridge, Dictionary of Catch Phrases: American and British, from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day, calls it a Canadian and U.S. catchphrase originating about 1925, "by c. 1950, also English, but . . . [used] rather to describe the learning of a a process, which, although performed thereafter with reasonable competence, is never actually understood."

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