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Is "monkey" a generic term for a primate in American English?

(3 Posts)
fryalot Mon 15-Sep-08 12:42:57

Because I saw something on telly this morning where they seemed to use the terms "monkey" and "chimp" interchangeably.

The animal in question was clearly a chimpanzee, not a monkey but I wondered whether in American a monkey is any primate, a bit like the word "bug" is generic for any insect.

Anyone?

mabanana Mon 15-Sep-08 12:45:14

From Wiki

A monkey is any member of either the New World monkeys or Old World monkeys, two of the three groupings of simian primates, the third group being the apes. There are 264 known extant species of monkey.

The New World monkeys are classified within the parvorder Platyrrhini, whereas the Old World monkeys (superfamily Cercopithecoidea) form part of the parvorder Catarrhini, which also includes the apes. Thus, scientifically speaking, monkeys are paraphyletic (not a single coherent group), and Old World monkeys are actually more closely related to the apes than they are to the New World monkeys.

Because of their similarity to monkeys, apes such as chimpanzees and gibbons are often called "monkeys" in informal usage, though they are not monkeys. Conversely, due to its size (up to 1 m/3 ft) the Mandrill is often thought to be an ape, but it is actually an Old World monkey. Also, a few monkey species have the word "ape" in their common name.

fryalot Mon 15-Sep-08 12:47:15

thank you.

I just wondered whether the word "monkey" means something slightly different in American English than in British English though.

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