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[dawg, dog] /dɔg, dɒg/
a domesticated canid, Canis familiaris, bred in many varieties.
any carnivore of the dog family Canidae, having prominent canine teeth and, in the wild state, a long and slender muzzle, a deep-chested muscular body, a bushy tail, and large, erect ears.
Compare canid.
the male of such an animal.
any of various animals resembling a dog.
a despicable man or youth.
Informal. a fellow in general:
a lucky dog.
dogs, Slang. feet.
  1. something worthless or of extremely poor quality:
    That used car you bought is a dog.
  2. an utter failure; flop:
    Critics say his new play is a dog.
Slang. an ugly, boring, or crude person.
Slang. hot dog.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. either of two constellations, Canis Major or Canis Minor.
  1. any of various mechanical devices, as for gripping or holding something.
  2. a projection on a moving part for moving steadily or for tripping another part with which it engages.
Also called gripper, nipper. Metalworking. a device on a drawbench for drawing the work through the die.
a cramp binding together two timbers.
an iron bar driven into a stone or timber to provide a means of lifting it.
an andiron; firedog.
Meteorology. a sundog or fogdog.
a word formerly used in communications to represent the letter D.
verb (used with object), dogged, dogging.
to follow or track like a dog, especially with hostile intent; hound.
to drive or chase with a dog or dogs.
Machinery. to fasten with dogs.
dog it, Informal.
  1. to shirk one's responsibility; loaf on the job.
  2. to retreat, flee, renege, etc.:
    a sponsor who dogged it when needed most.
go to the dogs, Informal. to deteriorate; degenerate morally or physically:
This neighborhood is going to the dogs.
lead a dog's life, to have an unhappy or harassed existence:
He complains that he led a dog's life in the army.
let sleeping dogs lie, to refrain from action that would alter an existing situation for fear of causing greater problems or complexities.
put on the dog, Informal. to assume an attitude of wealth or importance; put on airs.
throw to the dogs. throw (def 57).
Origin of dog
before 1050; Middle English dogge, Old English docga
Related forms
dogless, adjective
doglike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for dog
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Eudora blushed deeply, and busily caressed the dog with her foot.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • And throwing himself on the grass, he hid his face against the dog and sobbed.

    The Armourer's Prentices Charlotte M. Yonge
  • And oh, sir,” added Stephen, “may we crave a drop of water for our dog?

    The Armourer's Prentices Charlotte M. Yonge
  • In this he resembled a dog who barks when a stranger approaches.

    Ancient Man Hendrik Willem van Loon
  • When it is cold, the dog finds a spot in front of the stove.

    Ancient Man Hendrik Willem van Loon
British Dictionary definitions for dog


  1. a domesticated canine mammal, Canis familiaris, occurring in many breeds that show a great variety in size and form
  2. (as modifier): dog biscuit
  1. any other carnivore of the family Canidae, such as the dingo and coyote
  2. (as modifier): the dog family, related adjective canine
  1. the male of animals of the dog family
  2. (as modifier): a dog fox
  1. spurious, inferior, or useless: dog Latin
  2. (in combination): dogberry
a mechanical device for gripping or holding, esp one of the axial slots by which gear wheels or shafts are engaged to transmit torque
(informal) a fellow; chap: you lucky dog
(informal) a man or boy regarded as unpleasant, contemptible, or wretched
(US, informal) a male friend: used as a term of address
(slang) an unattractive or boring girl or woman
(US & Canadian, informal) something unsatisfactory or inferior
short for firedog
any of various atmospheric phenomena See fogdog, seadog, sundog
a dog's chance, no chance at all
(informal) a dog's dinner, a dog's breakfast, something that is messy or bungled
a dog's life, a wretched existence
dog eat dog, ruthless competition or self-interest
(informal) like a dog's dinner, dressed smartly or ostentatiously
(US & Canadian, informal) put on the dog, to behave or dress in an ostentatious or showy manner
verb (transitive) dogs, dogging, dogged
to pursue or follow after like a dog
to trouble; plague: to be dogged by ill health
to chase with a dog or dogs
to grip, hold, or secure by a mechanical device
(usually in combination) thoroughly; utterly: dog-tired
See also dogs
Derived Forms
doglike, adjective
Word Origin
Old English docga, of obscure origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for dog

Old English docga, a late, rare word used of a powerful breed of canine. It forced out Old English hund (the general Germanic and Indo-European word; see canine) by 16c. and subsequently was picked up in many continental languages (e.g. French dogue (16c.), Danish dogge), but the origin remains one of the great mysteries of English etymology.

Many expressions -- a dog's life (c.1600), go to the dogs (1610s), etc. -- reflect earlier hard use of the animals as hunting accessories, not pampered pets. In ancient times, "the dog" was the worst throw in dice (attested in Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit, where the word for "the lucky player" was literally "the dog-killer"), which plausibly explains the Greek word for "danger," kindynas, which appears to be "play the dog."

Slang meaning "ugly woman" is from 1930s; that of "sexually aggressive man" is from 1950s. Adjectival phrase dog-eat-dog attested by 1850s. Dog tag is from 1918. To dog-ear a book is from 1650s; dog-eared in extended sense of "worn, unkempt" is from 1894.

Notwithstanding, as a dog hath a day, so may I perchance have time to declare it in deeds. [Princess Elizabeth, 1550]

It is ill wakyng of a sleapyng dogge. [Heywood, 1562]
Phrase put on the dog "get dressed up" (1934) may look back to the stiff stand-up shirt collars that in the 1890s were the height of male fashion (and were known as dog-collars at least from 1883), with reference to collars worn by dogs. The common Spanish word for "dog," perro, also is a mystery word of unknown origin, perhaps from Iberian. A group of Slavic "dog" words (Old Church Slavonic pisu, Polish pies, Serbo-Croatian pas) likewise are of unknown origin.


"to track like a dog," 1510s, see dog (n.). Related: Dogged; dogging.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for dog



  1. An unappealing or inferior person or thing; dud, loser: The new show's a total dog (1930s+)
  2. An unattractive woman: And she was a dog (1930s+)
  3. An attractive woman; fox (1960s+ Jazz musicians)
  4. A man; fellow; guy: dirty dog/ handsome dog (1596+)
  5. An untrustworthy man; seducer (1950s+ Black)
  6. A sexually aggressive man: before the dogs on the ward showed their hand (1950s+ Black)
  7. A foot: His left dog pained (1900s+)
  8. hot dog (1900+)
  9. A teenager: girls refer to boys as ''dogs,'' and both refer to sex as a function (1990s+ Black teenagers)


  1. (also dog around, dog on)To pester; taunt; bug, hassle: You were fully doggin' him about his hair/ My roommate was dogging on me for using up her shampoo/ In the verbal dueling of the speeded-up poetry, he doesn't bite rhymes and he doesn't get dogged or dissed (1970s+ Army)
  2. To perform well; defeat an adversary: I dogged him at racquetball, though (1980s+ Students)

Related Terms

barking dogs, bird dog, cats and dogs, dog it, dog's-nose, dog tags, dog up, dog-wagon, fuck the dog, the hair of the dog, hot diggety, hot dog, hound dog, it shouldn't happen to a dog, pup tent, put on the ritz, rain cats and dogs, red dog, road dog, see a man about a dog, short dog, top dog

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with dog
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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