Brass Monkeys


Baby, it's cold outside.

How cold is it, Paul?

Colder than many traditionally frozen locales.

Much, much colder.

Oh, and does anyone know what exactly a brass monkey is and why their nuts would freeze?


One source, on stuff, has this to say:

CANNON BALLS: In the heyday of sailing ships, all war ships and many freighters carried iron cannons. Those cannons fired round iron cannon balls. It was necessary to keep a good supply near the cannon, but prevent them from rolling about the deck. The best storage method devised was a square based pyramid with one ball on top, resting on four resting on nine which rested on sixteen. Thus, a supply of thirty cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon. There was only one problem - how to prevent the bottom layer from sliding/rolling from under the others. The solution was a metal plate called a "Monkey," with sixteen round indentations. If this plate was made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make "Brass Monkeys." Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled. Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the cannon balls would come right off the monkey. Thus, it was quite literally, "Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey!"

Coolin' by the lockers getting kind of funky
Me and the crew - we're drinking Brass Monkey
This girl walked by - she gave me the eye
I reached in the locker, grabbed the Spanish Fly
I put it with the Monkey - mixed it in the cup
Went over to the girl, 'Yo baby, what's up?'
I offered her a sip - the girl she gave me lip
It did begin the stuff wore in and now she's on my tip

Brass Monkey - that funky Monkey
Brass Monkey - junkie
That funky Monkey

Interesting theory. The only thing wrong with it that I can think of is that brass is a very soft metal, and it doesn't seem like the most obvious choice to stack big heavy iron things on top of.

Soft or not, it's cheap as hell, and it's backed up by strong, oaken decks. Most climes wouldn't suffer from brass monkey syndrome, anyhow.

This is an urban legend. See, or

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