Definition of a monkey on one's back in English:

a monkey on one's back


  • 1 informal A burdensome problem.

    • ‘the issue of her absence from the tournament last year remains the monkey on her back’
    • ‘The North, understandably still stuck in an anti-British mode, couldn't bring itself to throw this particular monkey off its back.’
    • ‘It was like having a monkey on your back that you just can't get rid of.’
    • ‘Is retro therefore almost a monkey on your back when trying to get your new product off the ground?’
    • ‘Some might say you've got a bit of a monkey on your back, to try to get that off to win the championship.’
    • ‘He triumphed after finishing runner-up for three years in a row, a record his described as ‘a monkey on his back’.’
    • ‘One of the biggest problems for the current management and players is to rid themselves of the notion that there's a monkey on their back.’
    • ‘When we signed Maurice, we did so because he was a good footballer, but, yes, it was a monkey on our back that we knew we had to get rid of.’
    • ‘‘That mountain was a monkey on my back,’ says the father of three, who's been lauded for his willingness to turn around tantalizingly close to a summit if conditions are dicey.’
    • ‘The Sox outfielder echoed his manager's frustration: ‘We don't have a monkey on our back,’ he told the wire service, ‘We have a gorilla.’’
    • ‘I don't think there's a monkey on my back yet.’
    1. 1.1A dependence on drugs.
      ‘she returned to her family with the heroin monkey on her back’
      • ‘‘Yup, it's an addiction, a monkey on my back,’ he said.’