- a domesticated canid, Canis familiaris, bred in many varieties.
- any carnivore of the dog family Canidae, having prominent canine teeth and, in the wild state, a long and slender muzzle, a deep-chested muscular body, a bushy tail, and large, erect ears.Compare canid.
- the male of such an animal.
- any of various animals resembling a dog.
- a despicable man or youth.
- Informal. a fellow in general: a lucky dog.
- dogs, Slang. feet.
- 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.
- Slang. an ugly, boring, or crude person.
- Slang. hot dog.
- (initial capital letter) Astronomy. either of two constellations, Canis Major or Canis Minor.
- 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.
- Also called gripper, nipper. Metalworking. a device on a drawbench for drawing the work through the die.
- a cramp binding together two timbers.
- an iron bar driven into a stone or timber to provide a means of lifting it.
- an andiron; firedog.
- Meteorology. a sundog or fogdog.
- a word formerly used in communications to represent the letter D.
verb (used with object), dogged, dog·ging.
- to follow or track like a dog, especially with hostile intent; hound.
- to drive or chase with a dog or dogs.
- Machinery. to fasten with dogs.
- dog it, Informal.
- to shirk one’s responsibility; loaf on the job.
- 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).
- 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
- 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
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.
Do less than is required; loaf or shirk. For example, I’m afraid our donors are dogging it this year. This expression originated in sports and soon was transferred to other endeavors. [Slang; c. 1900]
Move slowly, as in We just dogged it along from California to Oregon.
Run away, as in Let’s dog it out of here right now. This usage originated in American underworld slang in the 1920s, where it meant “to back down in cowardly fashion,” and acquired its present sense about 1930.
Same as put on the dog.
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)