from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Informal Infectious mononucleosis.
  • adj. Informal Monaural; monophonic.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. abbreviation for monaural or monophonic; having only a single audio channel
  • n. Short name for the disease mononucleosis
  • n. (UK, Australia) A bicycle or motorcycle trick where the front wheel is lifted off the ground while riding

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The black howler (Mycetes villosus), a monkey of Central America.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The black howler or howling monkey, Mycetes villosus.
  • n. A prefix in many words of Greek origin or formation, meaning ‘single,’ ‘one.’

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an acute disease characterized by fever and swollen lymph nodes and an abnormal increase of mononuclear leucocytes or monocytes in the bloodstream; not highly contagious; some believe it can be transmitted by kissing
  • adj. designating sound transmission or recording or reproduction over a single channel


Short for monophonic.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Shortening of mononucleosis (Wiktionary)
Probably from the prefix mono- meaning “one, single” (Wiktionary)
Shortening of monophonic (Wiktionary)



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Usually when a word has many meanings in English, they are the result of a centuries-long process, many of them washed up on the banks of oblivion by our time. In the case of mono, however, they're all new:

    (1) 1851: Mono, a Californian tribe
    (2) 1924: a picador's assistant, a monosabio
    (3) 1937: a boiler suit, especially those worn by Republican militia in the Spanish Civil War (literally "monkey")
    (4) 1959: monophonic recording
    (5) 1964: the disease mononucleosis
    (6) 1970: monochrome, black and white
    (7) 1977: a single-hulled boat, a monohull
    (8) 1979: a single-stranded fibre, a monofilament

    And it's perhaps a little surprising that no use of Japanese mono has come into English as a separate word. (The OED of course lists mono no aware under that phrase.)

    June 3, 2009

  • Spanish for monkey.

    October 24, 2008