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A dictionary says donkey = Duncan + monkey.
Is this Duncan+monkey being true?

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Hi,

A dictionary says donkey = Duncan + monkey.
Is this Duncan+monkey being true?


I imagine that it is trying to tell you how the word is pronounced, ie first syllable from 'Duncan', last syllable from 'monkey'. Some people might prefer to say first syllable from 'Don Juan'.

Best wishes, Clive
"From Wikipedia"

The word "donkey" is one of the most etymologically obscure in the English language . Until quite recent times, the standard word was "ass ", which has clear cognates in most other Indo-European languages ; no credible cognate for "donkey" has yet been identified, though it is possible that it is a diminutive of "dun" (dull greyish-brown), a typical donkey colour; originally, "donkey" was pronounced to rhyme with "monkey". In the late 18th century, the word "donkey" started to replace "ass", almost certainly to avoid confusion with the word "arse", which, due to sound changes that had affected the language, had come to be pronounced the same way (/æs/ > /ɑ:s/ and /ɑ:rs/ > /ɑ:s/). The /ɑ:s/ pronunciation of "ass" was eventually restored to /æs/ in order to reserve the distinction, but not without the curious consequence of American English losing the word "arse" entirely and handing over its meaning to "ass".

"From http://www.etymonline.com "

donkey 1785, slang, perhaps from dun "dull grey-brown," the form perhaps infl. by monkey. Or possibly from a familiar form of Duncan (cf.dobbin). The older Eng. word was ass.
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Hi Kangiten,

Good detective work!

Clive
Thanks you Clive Emotion: smile

I'm glad to help if I can, I receive so much help from the people here that I'm happy to return the favour Emotion: smile
Hi Clive Emotion: smile

No problem, I receive so much help from here I'm happy to return the favour when I can Emotion: smile

[edit: the above anonymous post was by me, feel free to delete it]
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Kangiten donkey 1785, slang, perhaps from dun "dull grey-brown," the form perhaps infl. by monkey. Or possibly from a familiar form of Duncan (cf.dobbin). The older Eng. word was ass.

Does this means that maybe the monkey word was involved in making the donkey word? Or maybe the Duncan word was involved? But not both?

Thanks for helping with this.
No idea but maybe the pronunciation of "duncan" got altered over the years and became "donkey" because "monkey" already existed.