Definition of brass monkey in English:

brass monkey


  • Used in phrases to refer to extremely cold weather.

    ‘it's brass monkey weather tonight’
    • ‘The entire cab area can be hosed out after a good day bush bashing, while the creature comforts included air conditioning good enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.’
    • ‘Similarly, pack your thermals, because it's colder than a brass monkey's ice lolly.’
    • ‘It got cold on the gun decks and the indentations in the brass monkey would get smaller than the iron cannonballs they were holding.’
    • ‘Thus, it was quite literally, ‘Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey!’’
    • ‘Actually the weather today is much milder than yesterday when it was cold enough to freeze the spheres off a brass monkey (an old sea-faring expression).’


Mid 19th century: often said to be from a type of brass rack or monkey in which cannonballs were stored and which contracted in very cold weather, ejecting the balls, but this explanation has not been proved.


brass monkey

/ˈˌbras ˈməNGkē/