- something worthless or of extremely poor quality: That used car you bought is a dog.
- an utter failure; flop: Critics say his new play is a dog.
- any of various mechanical devices, as for gripping or holding something.
- a projection on a moving part for moving steadily or for tripping another part with which it engages.
verb (used with object), dogged, dog·ging.
- to shirk one's responsibility; loaf on the job.
- to retreat, flee, renege, etc.: a sponsor who dogged it when needed most.
Origin of dog
- a domesticated canine mammal, Canis familiaris, occurring in many breeds that show a great variety in size and form
- (as modifier)dog biscuit
- any other carnivore of the family Canidae, such as the dingo and coyote
- (as modifier)the dog family Related adjective: canine
- the male of animals of the dog family
- (as modifier)a dog fox
- spurious, inferior, or uselessdog Latin
- (in combination)dogberry
verb dogs, dogging or dogged (tr)
Word Origin 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.
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.”
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
- 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)