Learn English – “Monkey up” to mean bungle or mess something up


On Fox News I saw a segment where gubernatorial candidate for Florida was talking about mayor of Tallahassee, Andrew Gillum, running for governor. In it he says:

"Let's build off the success we've had on Governor Scott. The last
thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a
socialist agenda."

My interest is in the term "monkey up". I understood the meaning he meant to convey probably from the association that monkeys are said to have with mischief.

2. One who behaves in a way suggestive of a monkey, as a mischievous child or a mimic.
American Heritage Dictionary

This mischief association is found in other dictionaries too.

I tried to look up variations of "monkey up something" or "monkey something up", or "monkey it up" and all I found were results of this particular statement made by this politician. Generally the results are on this particular event and that it was used intentionally for racial motives.

I've looked up "monkey" as a verb itself and found meanings along these lines:

  1. (intr; usually foll by around, with, etc) to meddle, fool, or tinker
    Collins English Dictionary

But this seems somewhat different from the meaning of to "ruin", "mess up", "bungle", "regress" etc, although I admit they may be related. The problem is that in my search I have not seen an instance of this phrase, "to monkey up" to mean this outside of this particular instance.

Also possibly related, "throw a (monkey) wrench in(to) the works", which does indeed mean to "set back" or "halt progress" or break something, or along those lines.

I want to purely keep this on an English usage level and not go anywhere near politics or race. Is there an instance or two of "monkey up" someone can provide with this meaning that I may have missed? I'd be grateful. Maybe my searching skills are bad, but all the results returned were about this particular incident.

Best Answer

I've done more searching, and found these phrases which definitely seem to have the same meaning of to "mess up" or "break".

Again, however, this is something that was working perfectly fine before Sprint monkeyed it up.
Forum post from 2011 (Sprint is an ISP I believe.)

Maybe I monkeyed it up when I installed the patch, I don't know. I just know a clean install from the SP2 CD worked fine.
Cakewalk forums, posted in 2007

Unless I monkeyed it up, I think I set up a Discord server for my Twitch subs?! In Discord just go to User Setting > Connections > Twitch to connect, then hit join on my server...I think?!
Someone's tweet on 21 August 2018

My Son was given a scooter free...really. A neighbor had it and his son got a flat and decided to try and fix it but really monkeyed it up then refused to try to do it proper.
Forum post from 2014

Thank you, that was all I wanted, just instances of the phrase being used elsewhere, as I couldn't find any unrelated to the Fox News incident when I searched the first time around. I think this was due to the fact that the incident happened only a few days ago and was somewhat controversial, so the search engines inundated me with results related to the Fox News interview.