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Monk

in printing, is a black smear or blotch made by leaving too much ink on the part. Caxton set up his printing-press in the scriptorium of Westminster Abbey; and the associations of this place gave rise to the slang expressions monk and friar for black and white defects. (See Friar, Chapel.)

Give a man a monk
(French, “Luy bailler le moyne).” To do one a mischief. Rabelais says that Grangousier (after the battle of Picrochole) asked “what was become of Friar John;” to which Gargantua replied, “No doubt the enemy has the monk,” alluding to the pugnacious feats of this wonderful churchman, who knocked men down like ninepins. (Rabelais: Gargantua and Pantagruel, book i. 45.)

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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