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Monkey See, Monkey Do

Posted by ESC on September 03, 2000

In Reply to: Monkey See, Monkey Do posted by Chris B on September 02, 2000

: I'm using this title for one of my explain to the kids where the phrase originates!

I couldn't find much "monkey see, monkey do."

"A Dictionary of American Proverbs" by Wolfgang Mieder & Others (Oxford University Press, New York, 1992) has this under the "monkey" entry: MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO - regional distribution: U.S. and Canada. First citation: 1934, Hare, "Hand of the Chimpanzee."

There's an entry in "My Soul Looks Back, 'less I Forget: A Collection of Quotations by People of Color" edited by Dorthy Winbush Riley (Harper Perennial, New York, 1991, 1993) that makes me think "monkey see, monkey do" might be the moral of a folktale. The entry is a Zulu saying under the "Imitation" category: "Copying everybody else all the time, the monkey then cut his throat."

But that saying might be a bit grim for young students.