Monday, November 23, 2009

Doggy Phrases

You can tell how important dogs are to humans by the fact that there are lots of phrases using the word dog.  Today I am going to talk about two of these phrases.

The first one is dog-eat-dog.  Sometimes people will say, "It's a dog-eat-dog world."  And what they mean is that everybody is very aggressive towards everybody else, and they will do whatever they have to in order to succeed, like eat anybody who gets in their way.

I don't like this phrase much because it makes dogs sound like they are always killing and eating each other, which is not true.  Sometimes one dog will kill another dog, but I have never heard of a dog eating another dog.  I guess if a dog was really starving, he would eat a dog, but I don't think this happens very often.  What I have heard of is when a coyote kills a small dog and eats it, but this is not what you would call "dog-eat-dog."  It's more like "coyote-eat-dog."

Anyway, a phrase that I like much better is putting on the dog.  This means getting all dressed up and fancy and looking snazzy.  It's the same as putting on the ritz.   This phrase got started a long, long time ago, back in the 1860s, as college slang.  You could also say that something was doggy, and that meant it was attractive and flashy and expensive.

These phrases might have got started because it was very popular back in those days for rich ladies to have little dogs that they "put on" their laps.  So the fact that they could sit around with dogs on their laps showed that they could afford to lead a life of leisure.  Working people did not have time to just sit around, so they didn't have lap dogs.  They had working dogs that helped herd the sheep and did things like that.

I like the phrase putting on the dog because it is a much nicer way to think of dogs than in the phrase dog-eat-dog.  Mom said maybe I should start an Anti-Defamation League for dogs, and the purpose of this group would be to ask people not to use phrases like dog-eat-dog that show dogs in a bad light.  Then if people insisted on using these phrases anyway, we could bite them on the ankle!  I think that would work, don't you?


  1. Dear Piper-

    My mom often says keeping up with me and my sister, Pearl-petual motion the malinois, makes her dog-tired.

    Zest the superstar in training

  2. Dear Zest,
    "Dog-tired" is an interesting phrase because I don't know why dogs would get more tired than any other animal. I will have to research this and see if I can learn anything. I think maybe "horse-tired" would be a better phrase, especially back in the day when everybody rode horses because cars weren't invented yet!

  3. Hmmm...I thought I remembered this blog, because it was a fun one to read. Appparently I didn't since there's no comment from me in 2009. Wether I did or didn't, I enjoyed it (again.)
    Love, AP

  4. Dear Aunt Patty,
    Maybe you are like my mom, and you are old and have a bad memory. My mom can't remember what I wrote in a lot of my blog entries or even what subjects I have already written about. But I guess this makes it more fun for her to go back and read the old stuff, because it seems all new again. LOL
    Love, Piper

  5. Glad to know I'm not the only senile person reading your blog!! :)
    Love, AP