More fun than a barrel of monkeys??

I have done extensive research and even sent this question to Cecil. Anyone know where this term originated and why fun can now be measured against how much fun monkeys in a barrel are having?



Cool Cats and Top Dogs
by Christine Ammer

This book delves into the meanings and origins of some 1200 English expressions referring to animals.

I also discovered during Halloween that “fun” can be quantified as 1" x 1/2", per the “fun size” bags of candy. “More fun than a barrel of monkeys” is more of a comparative value of fun.

Nitpick: 7/8" X 1-5/8" X 3/8" or .533 cubic inches, all dimensions roughly averaged.

The original expression was “more fun than a four barrel monkey” but the change in automotive technology to fuel injection has rendered the expression meaningless to many people.

Welcome to SDMB tracywaits. Don’t worry, we don’t always answer questions by screwing around like this but you picked a good one for your first post.

Do you have a cite for this? It seems to me this expression has been around a lot longer than carburetors.

Padeye was joking Fat Bald Guy.

Does anyone have a first cite?

I cannot find anything about it except the Hasbro game “Barrel of Monkeys.” In a quick google I did not find anything on the age of this game, but remember playing it as a child.

I have a funny feeling that the game is the source of the phrase.

BTW - having more fun than a barrel of monkeys was easily accomplished.

[non sequitur]

So if something can be “more fun than a barrel of monkeys”, and if something can also be “as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.” then…

Would “shooting fish in a barrel of monkeys” describe something that is both easy and fun?

[/non sequitur]

When I was living in Vermont (up to 1989) there was a rifle season for fish.

Not quite a barrel but pretty close.

IIRC it was in March in some of the tributaries to Lake Champlain.

There’s a really boring game called “Barrel of Monkeys”. The object is to pull all of the monkeys out of the barrel by linking the tales or arms.

It’s really dull. I can imagine anything would be more fun that that…

more fun than a bathtub full of otters.

Otters are way fun.

Another vote for Christine Ammer and her books. Top shelf.

From her American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms she says cited first in 1895. Refers to “the playful behavior of these primates.”

I noticed that “barrelful” such as money, was a popular late-1800’s expression meaning “much.”

Was there ever a more inaccurate name than “fun-size candy bar”? Every kid who has ever lived knows that there’s nothing fun about getting less candy.

It has since been replaced by “shitload”.

(We’ve come a long way baby.)

In the 1960’s, this was briefly breached by “a barrelful of junkies.” Junkies are not nearly as fun as monkeys, so the “more fun than” is easier to reach.