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dog days

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plural noun
  1. the sultry part of the summer, supposed to occur during the period that Sirius, the Dog Star, rises at the same time as the sun: now often reckoned from July 3 to August 11.
  2. a period marked by lethargy, inactivity, or indolence.

Origin of dog days

1530–40; translation of Latin diēs caniculārēs; see canicular
Related formsdog-day, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for dog days

Historical Examples

  • When his club closed in the dog-days for repairs he went to the club which received him.

    The Doctor of Pimlico

    William Le Queux

  • It was in the height of summer, just at the beginning of the dog-days.

  • With the beginning of the dog-days, however, the weather had changed.

    Caleb West, Master Diver

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • While the dog-days are disappointing in respect to bird life, there are compensations.

    In the Open

    Stanton Davis Kirkham

  • Common assaults and drunkenness also multiply wonderfully in the dog-days.


British Dictionary definitions for dog days

dog days

pl n
  1. the hot period of the summer reckoned in ancient times from the heliacal rising of Sirius (the Dog Star)
  2. a period marked by inactivity

Word Origin

C16: translation of Late Latin diēs caniculārēs, translation of Greek hēmerai kunades
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

Word Origin and History for dog days

n.

1530s, from Latin dies caniculares, from Greek; so called because they occur around the time of the heliacal rising of Sirius, the Dog Star (kyon seirios). Noted as the hottest and most unwholesome time of the year; usually July 3 to Aug. 11, but variously calculated, depending on latitude and on whether the greater Dog-star (Sirius) or the lesser one (Procyon) is reckoned.

The heliacal rising of Sirius has shifted down the calendar with the precession of the equinoxes; in ancient Egypt c.3000 B.C.E. it coincided with the summer solstice, which also was the new year and the beginning of the inundation of the Nile. The "dog" association apparently began here (the star's hieroglyph was a dog), but the reasons for it are obscure.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

dog days in Culture

dog days

The hot, muggy days of summer. The Romans associated such weather with the influence of Sirius, the dog star, which is high in the sky during summer days.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with dog days

dog days

Hot, sultry summer weather; also, a period of stagnation. For example, It's hard to get much work done during the dog days, or Every winter there's a week or two of dog days when sales drop dramatically. The term alludes to the period between early July and early September, when Sirius, the so-called Dog Star, rises and sets with the sun. The ancient Romans called this phenomenon dies caniculares, which was translated as “dog days” in the first half of the 1500s.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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