[dong-kee, dawng-, duhng-]

noun, plural don·keys.

the domestic ass, Equus asinus.
(since 1874) a representation of this animal as the emblem of the U.S. Democratic Party.
a stupid, silly, or obstinate person.
a woodworking apparatus consisting of a clamping frame and saw, used for cutting marquetry veneers.


Machinery. auxiliary: donkey engine; donkey pump; donkey boiler.

Origin of donkey

1775–85; perhaps alteration of Dunkey, hypocoristic form of Duncan, man's name Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for donkey

horse, burro, mule, ass, pony, jackass, jenny, jennet, moke, maud, neddy

Examples from the Web for donkey

Contemporary Examples of donkey

Historical Examples of donkey

  • The Leopard Woman sat her donkey, and surveyed it all with appreciative eyes.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • "It's Charley Channing that's the donkey; not me," cried Tod, fiercely.

    The Channings

    Mrs. Henry Wood

  • The symbol of that influence was that ancient symbol of the humble and humorous—a donkey.

    Alarms and Discursions

    G. K. Chesterton

  • When first I saw the donkey I saw him in the sunlight as the unearthly gargoyle that he is.

    Alarms and Discursions

    G. K. Chesterton

  • "Well, we had some fun with the donkey, anyhow," put in Ned.

British Dictionary definitions for donkey



Also called: ass a long-eared domesticated member of the horse family (Equidae), descended from the African wild ass (Equus asinus)
a stupid or stubborn person
British slang, derogatory a footballer known for his or her lack of skillthe players are a bunch of overpriced and overrated donkeys
talk the hind leg(s) off a donkey to talk endlessly

Word Origin for donkey

C18: perhaps from dun dark + -key, as in monkey
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for donkey

1785, originally slang, perhaps a diminutive from dun "dull gray-brown," the form perhaps influenced by monkey. Or possibly from a familiar form of Duncan (cf. dobbin). The older English word was ass (n.1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

donkey in Culture


A symbol (see also symbol) of the Democratic party, introduced in a series of political cartoons by Thomas Nast during the congressional elections of 1874. (Compare elephant.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.