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see a man about a dog

Excuse oneself without giving the real reason for leaving, especially to go to the toilet or have an alcoholic drink. For example, Excuse me, I have to see a man about a dog. This euphemistic term dates from the Prohibition days of the 1920s, when buying liquor was illegal, and, after repeal, was transferred to other circumstances.

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