One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A domesticated hoofed mammal of the horse family with long ears and a braying call, used as a beast of burden; an ass.
Equus asinus, family Equidae, descended from the wild ass of Africa
- ‘With the thin flush of grass on the high slopes fast shriveling up, it is time for local people to cull old, unwanted horses and donkeys.’
- ‘Hybrids such as the mule, a cross between a donkey and a horse, are sterile.’
- ‘Since donkeys were first domesticated about six thousand years ago, they have been very important in human economies.’
- ‘The strange script included drawings of camels, horses, donkeys and ibex.’
- ‘Mules, typically the result of breeding a male donkey with a female horse, are usually sterile.’
- ‘Only 37,000 wild horses and donkeys remain on public lands, primarily in Nevada, Oregon, and Wyoming.’
- ‘Horses, ponies and donkeys are overcrowding animal sanctuaries after being abandoned by their owners.’
- ‘A few moments later, he emerged, riding a fat old donkey.’
- ‘The sanctuary looks after more than 100 horses, ponies and donkeys, plus sheep, pigs, and goats.’
- ‘He said that horses and mules and donkeys were attracted to a nearby spring.’
- ‘Horses and donkeys produce mules, for example.’
- ‘Always make sure horses, ponies and donkeys are stabled while fireworks are being let off.’
- ‘A man was riding a donkey, carrying a couple of baskets towards the jetty.’
- ‘As well as farm livestock, there will be showing classes for horses, goats and donkeys.’
- ‘Because of them, hundreds of other horses, donkeys, and mules will be saved and will know love.’
- ‘Miniature donkeys are very popular as companion animals and for show.’
- ‘Highly intelligent - their fans would argue that they're smarter than horses - donkeys and mules are quick learners.’
- ‘"She was involved in the donkey sanctuary and loved horses and all animals.’
- ‘They head out in the boat and Sancho starts crying after he hears his donkey braying plaintively.’
- ‘It also gave shelter to abandoned horses, dogs, donkeys and birds.’
2informal A stupid or inept person.
fool, idiot, ass, halfwit, nincompoop, blockhead, buffoon, dunce, dolt, ignoramus, cretin, imbecile, dullard, moron, simpleton, clodView synonyms
- ‘I had seven names in all: imbecile, donkey, flax-head, dope, glump, ninny, and fool.’
- ‘We've called him and his ilk everything from thickheaded bozos, to donkeys and pious do-gooders.’
- ‘I hate it when my words come out like I am a stupid donkey.’
3informal An engine.
4A low stool on which an artist sits astride, especially in an art school.
5mass noun A children's card game involving exchanging cards.
informal Seriously or heavily involved, especially in something considered controversial or undesirable.‘they are donkey deep in this whole sordid affair’
- ‘The defence lawyer and her youthful smarty-pants cohorts might have been donkey deep in murder most foul, but they were not entirely guilty.’
- ‘It turns out that he was donkey deep in efforts to help this property developer well beyond supporting him for citizenship.’
- ‘A senior political adviser working was donkey deep in the attempt to embarrass the then Labour leader.’
- ‘His boss is in donkey deep with Hollywood, so Joyce needs to be on side with them.’
- ‘Any discussion of policies and issues gave way to the suspicion the Prime Minister was donkey deep in a conspiracy.’
- ‘Frank has sunk donkey deep into crime while trying to earn the capital to go straight.’
informal A very long time.‘we've been close friends for donkey's years’
a long time, an age, ages, ages and ages, a time, a lifetimeView synonyms
- ‘I have lived round here for donkey's years and this seemed to be the worst managed match.’
- ‘I have been a member for donkey's years.’
- ‘But residents are sticking by tradition, claiming housewives have been hanging out their washing across the back alley for donkey's years.’
- ‘Some people don't even have septic tanks - it's been that way for donkey's years - and will still pump raw sewage into the drains.’
- ‘I felt as if I had known all the patrons for donkey's years.’
- ‘The feeling in the village is really angry, people are very upset because of the amount of people who have played down there, going back donkey's years.’
- ‘The " kits " for each experiment had been around for donkey's years.’
- ‘I know one couple who have lived together for donkey's years, but she is buying the house and he pays his rent - in cash - every pay day.’
- ‘Many groups have done it informally for donkey's years.’
- ‘It is the best lead toys collection we've seen in donkey's years and we are expecting that it will attract national collector interest.’
Late 18th century (originally pronounced to rhyme with monkey): perhaps from dun, or from the given name Duncan.
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