• synonyms


[dong-kee, dawng-, duhng-]
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noun, plural don·keys.
  1. the domestic ass, Equus asinus.
  2. (since 1874) a representation of this animal as the emblem of the U.S. Democratic Party.
  3. a stupid, silly, or obstinate person.
  4. a woodworking apparatus consisting of a clamping frame and saw, used for cutting marquetry veneers.
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  1. Machinery. auxiliary: donkey engine; donkey pump; donkey boiler.
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Origin of donkey

1775–85; perhaps alteration of Dunkey, hypocoristic form of Duncan, man's name
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for donkey

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • 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


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

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).

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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.)

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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.