Category Archives: Dog Entomology

What’s That Dog Saying?

Ever wonder where some sayings come from? We recently picked out a bunch of saying related to dogs and tried to find their origins. Like, who knew ‘Three Dog Night’ is about curling up in bed with Siberian Huskies!? Here’s a few examples and links to lots more… post your own in the comments section!

DOG DAYS (of summer):  (Latin: diēs caniculārēs) are the hottest, most sultry days of summer. The name comes from the ancient belief that Sirius, also called the Dog Star, in close proximity to the sun was responsible for the hot weather. (2) (3)

DOG DAY AFTERNOON: this title is a derivation of the above. And maybe the best Al Pacino movie. Attica!

A DIRTY DOG:  The French say, Crotté comme un barbet (muddy or dirty as a poodle), whose hair, being very long, becomes filthy with mud and dirt. Generally speaking, “a dirty dog” is one morally filthy, and is applied to those who talk and act nastily. (1)

DOGS OF WAR:  The horrors of war, especially famine, sword, and fire. “And Cæsar’s spirit, ranging for revenge, With Até by his side, come hot from hell. Shall in these confines, with a monarch’s voice, Cry ‘Havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of war.” (1)

HAIR OF THE DOG THAT BIT YOU: When a man has had a debauch, he is advised to take next morning “a hair of the same dog,” in allusion to an ancient notion that the burnt hair of a dog is an antidote to its bite. (1)

DOG TIRED: is an old English phrase. It derives from an old tale of Alfred the Great who used to send his sons out with his extensive kennels of hunting dogs. Whichever of his sons, be it Athelbrod or Edwin, were able to catch more of the hounds would gain their father’s right hand side at the dinner table that evening. These chases would leave them ‘dog-tired’ yet merry at their victory! (4)

MY DOGS (feet) ARE BARKING (tired): “feet,” 1913, from rhyming slang dog’s meat. (5 ) Also: Dogs – usually plural, a person’s foot or feet, as in “shake one’s dogs” meaning dance or “barking dogs.” Citations from T.A. Dorgan, in N.Y. Eve. Jour., 1913: “Waitin’ for my sore dog to heal up.” And dogs as shoes, 1914: “He’s been (shining) those old dogs for an hour now.” Another citation: “A Marine never calls a foot anything but a dog. 1919, Ladies Home Journal, September. 1966, “My dogs are barking.” 1966, “T. Pendleton,” Iron Orchard. From “Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 1, A-G” by J.E. Lighter, Random House, New York, 1994. Page 616. (6 )

EVERY DOG HAS HIS DAY:  In Latin, “Hodie mihi, cras tibi.” “Nunc mihi, nunc tibi, benigna.” In German, “Heute mir, morgen dir.” You may crow over me to-day, but my turn will come by-and-by. The Latin proverb, “Hodie mihi,” etc., means, “I died to-day, your turn will come in time.” The other Latin proverb means, fortune visits every man once. She favours me now, but she will favour you in your turn. “Thus every dog at last will have his day— He who this morning smiled, at night may sorrow; the grub to-day’s a butterfly to-morrow.” (1)

THREE DOG NIGHT:  So cold you would need three dogs in bed with you to keep warm. Many sources suggest that the origin is from the Australian outback.  A more academic source (and therefore perhaps more authoritative), Climate Change in Prehistory published by Cambridge University Press, names the Chukchi, “who live in the far east of Siberia” and who are “renowned for having bred the Siberian husky” as the originators. Also, the band of that name had three lead singers. (7)