[dawg, dog]


verb (used with object), dogged, dog·ging.


    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 formsdog·less, adjectivedog·like, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for dogs

Contemporary Examples of dogs

Historical Examples of dogs

British Dictionary definitions for dogs


pl n

the dogs British informal greyhound racing
slang the feet
marketing informal goods with a low market share, which are unlikely to yield substantial profits
go to the dogs informal to go to ruin physically or morally
let sleeping dogs lie to leave things undisturbed
throw someone to the dogs to abandon someone to criticism or attack



Isle of Dogs a district in the East End of London, bounded on three sides by the River Thames, and a focus of major office development (Canary Wharf) in recent years



  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 uselessdog 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; chapyou 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 and Canadian informal something unsatisfactory or inferior
short for firedog
any of various atmospheric phenomenaSee fogdog, seadog, sundog
a dog's chance no chance at all
a dog's dinner or a dog's breakfast informal something that is messy or bungled
a dog's life a wretched existence
dog eat dog ruthless competition or self-interest
like a dog's dinner informal dressed smartly or ostentatiously
put on the dog US and Canadian informal to behave or dress in an ostentatious or showy manner

verb dogs, dogging or dogged (tr)

to pursue or follow after like a dog
to trouble; plagueto 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; utterlydog-tired
See also dogs
Derived Formsdoglike, adjective

Word Origin for dog

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

Word Origin and History for dogs

"feet," 1913, from rhyming slang dog's meat.



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

Idioms and Phrases with dogs


In addition to the idioms beginning with dog

  • dog days
  • dog eat dog
  • dog in the manger
  • dog it

also see:

  • coon's (dog's) age
  • every dog has its day
  • go to pot (the dogs)
  • hair of the dog
  • hot dog
  • in the doghouse
  • let sleeping dogs lie
  • put on the dog
  • rain cats and dogs
  • see a man about a dog
  • shaggy dog story
  • sick as a dog
  • tail wagging the dog
  • teach an old dog new tricks
  • throw to the wolves (dogs)
  • top banana (dog)
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.