What better way to celebrate National Dog Day, founded by animal advocate Colleen Paige in 2004, than to review how canines have contributed to the English lexicon? “[The dog] regulates your heart. Your dog is the ultimate acolyte; he believes you are the very image of God. His centrality to our lives has led inevitably to an equally central place in our language — the word “dog” alone or as part of a description of dog qualities or behaviors finds dozens of everyday applications,” writes Donald Friedman in his dog-friendly book, My Dawg, Dog: A Lexicon of Dog Terms for People. Here are some highlights:
Big dog: the boss or an important person
Cut dog: a person that has been rendered powerless
Dirty dog: a devious person
Dog days: the sweltering hot days of summer (usually in August)
Dog-eared: bent corners of a book or paper
Dog-eat-dog: extremely competitive
Dog-face liar: a compulsive liar
Doggerel: humorous verse composed in irregular rhythm
Doggie bag: a container for leftover food from a restaurant
Dog shelf: the floor
Dog years: a long time
Dogs of wars: mercenaries
Doggie style (also doggy style): fornicating like canines, with one person on all fours. The ancient Romans referred to this position as coitus more ferarum, meaning “sexual intercourse in the manner of wild beasts.” The ancient Indian Hindu text, the Kama Sutra (written between 400 BC and 200 AD) refers to this position as “congress of the cow” or the “cow position.” Moo!
Dog’s life: a wretched existence
Lucky dog: a very fortunate person
Puppy love: adolescent infatuation
Let sleeping dogs lie: don’t stir up trouble where it doesn’t exist
Like a dog with a bone: someone who clings to an idea or a topic
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For further reading: My Dawg, Dog: A Lexicon of Dog Terms for People by Donald Friedman (2013)