[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

British Dictionary definitions for put on the 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 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 put on the 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

put on the dog in Culture

put on the dog

To make a show of wealth or elegance: “The annual ball gave everyone a chance to dress up and put on the dog.”

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 put on the dog

put on the dog

Also, put on the ritz. Behave in an elegant, extravagant manner, as in We'll have to put on the dog when our daughter's in-laws visit, or They really put on the ritz for the wedding reception. The allusion in the first of these slangy terms, first recorded in 1865, is unclear, although it has been suggested that the newly rich displayed their wealth by keeping pampered lapdogs. The second term, from the 1920s, alludes to the large, luxurious hotels founded by and named for César Ritz (1850–1918), which still exist in Paris, London, and many other major cities.


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.