monkey on (one's) back

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monkey on (one's) back

1. slang A drug addiction. Did you hear? Pete checked himself into rehab to deal with the monkey on his back. I've been clean and sober for nearly five years, but I can still feel the monkey on my back breathing down my neck.
2. A persistent burden or problem. This project is such a monkey on my back right now—I can't wait for it to be over. Trust me, don't get in debt. You don't want that monkey on your back.
See also: back, monkey, on
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

monkey on one's back

1. Drug addiction, as in He'd had a monkey on his back for at least two years. [Slang; first half of 1900s]
2. A vexing problem or burden, as in This project has proved to be a monkey on my back-there seems to be no end to it. Both usages allude to being unable to shake off the animal from one's back.
See also: back, monkey, on
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

a monkey on your back

JOURNALISM
If you have a monkey on your back, you have a problem, often an emotional problem, that makes your life difficult for a long period. They haven't beaten United in three years and it's a monkey on their backs that they are desperate to shake off. Note: You can also say that you get the monkey off your back, meaning that you manage to end the problem. I'm just delighted to win and get the monkey off our back with a home victory at last. Note: `To have a monkey on your back' originally meant to be angry. Later it came to be used to say that someone was addicted to drugs; it is still used in this way today.
See also: back, monkey, on
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

a/the ˌmonkey on somebody’s ˈback


1 a difficult problem that somebody cannot solve or get rid of: The accusations of fraud remain a monkey on her back.
2 (slang) the state of being unable to stop using drugs
See also: back, monkey, on
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

monkey on one's back

1. An addiction to a drug.
2. An object of persistent worry or obsession.
See also: back, monkey, on
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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