I'll confess: the phrase you filthy monkey is one of my favorites. It has so many uses, all of them creative and constructive, and as a standalone example of the English language (or American language for those e2 linguistic police from across the pond) I find it utterly fascinating.

Why fascinating? I am so glad you asked.

Let's dissect the phrase into its three component parts and then examine how they work together to create an synergistic connotation.

  • you
    This, ostensibly, refers to the person, object, event, or other suitable noun at which it has been directed by the speaker. said phrase, hereafter referred to as yfm. With the reference is included a malleable degree of association; the thing in question may not actually be a filthy monkey (that is to say a dirt-covered primate) but the use of yfm assures us that it is certainly behaving like one, no matter its real nature.
  • filthy
    Here we have a word of prodigious ambiguity. Is the object in question literally covered in dirt? Presenting distasteful opinions or attitudes? Simply existing in a situation or locale where all present are "filthy" by definition? Who knows?
  • monkey
    As many of you know, I am not a trained...erm...animal...guy, and cannot distinguish what features, if any, differentiate a "monkey" from other primates such as gorillas, chimpanzees, or orangutans. Such concerns are moot in this case, since the inclusion of "monkey" in yfm can safely be assumed to include only the pejorative aspects of our more hairy brethren, and likely the non-species-specific aspects at that.
Now then! We see that the three elements are rather more complicated than previously thought, and thus, we hope, the end result of combining them together will produce something exciting and perhaps even startling, much like a gumbo made by your third cousin Merv after a severe drinking session, and marked by the addition of things like the jar of "mystery spices" that was in the cupboard when you moved in, a tray of meat you don't remember buying, rending to bloody chunks, or putting in the refrigerator, and at least one fluffy sock.

But I digress.

The three players in our little word play (ha ha) come together to form a phrase which carries hints of disgust, loathing, and repulsion with a strong base of discomfort, and unease, but feature an aftertaste of jocularity, teasing, and even merriment.

I recommend using this phrase at family gatherings, preferrably after someone has consumed a little too much eggnog and admitted to a felony involving a sheep and a pair of swim fins. Be sure to deliver it in a timely fashion, in full earshot of others, and with self-righteous fury, barely repressed guffaws, or a sly grin as appropriate to your personal mood and the atmosphere at table.

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