[woch-dawg, -dog]


a dog kept to guard property.
a watchful guardian: a self-appointed watchdog of the public morals.


of, relating to, or characteristic of a watchdog.
organized or functioning as a watchful guardian, especially against illegal or unethical conduct: a watchdog group in the legislature.

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

to watch carefully, especially so as to detect illegal or unethical conduct.

Origin of watchdog

First recorded in 1600–10; watch + dog Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for watchdog

Contemporary Examples of watchdog

Historical Examples of watchdog

  • "Perhaps he feels as if he were our watchdog, Babbie," she said.


    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • And then the "watchdog" exhibited the first evidence of spirit that it had ever been known to show.

    Cap'n Eri

    Joseph Crosby Lincoln

  • To mention the case of the Montana to this watchdog was dangerous.

  • “Stephen the Watchdog knows me,” said Derette, drawing a long breath.

    One Snowy Night

    Emily Sarah Holt

  • "It wouldn't be a bad thing to have a watchdog," said Henry.

    The Box-Car Children

    Gertrude Chandler Warner

British Dictionary definitions for watchdog



a dog kept to guard property
  1. a person or group of persons that acts as a protector or guardian against inefficiency, illegal practices, etc
  2. (as modifier)a watchdog committee
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 watchdog

c.1600, from watch (v.) + dog (n.). Figurative sense is attested from 1845.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper