Stories We Like: Novels For Language Lovers
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]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.
It is ill wakyng of a sleapyng dogge. [Heywood, 1562]
"to track like a dog," 1510s, see dog (n.). Related: Dogged; dogging.
barking dogs, bird dog, cats and dogs, dog it, dog's-nose, dog tags, dog up, dog-wagon, fuck the dog, the hair of the dog, hot diggety, hot dog, hound dog, it shouldn't happen to a dog, pup tent, put on the ritz, rain cats and dogs, red dog, road dog, see a man about a dog, short dog, top dog
frequently mentioned both in the Old and New Testaments. Dogs were used by the Hebrews as a watch for their houses (Isa. 56:10), and for guarding their flocks (Job 30:1). There were also then as now troops of semi-wild dogs that wandered about devouring dead bodies and the offal of the streets (1 Kings 14:11; 16:4; 21:19, 23; 22:38; Ps. 59:6, 14). As the dog was an unclean animal, the terms "dog," "dog's head," "dead dog," were used as terms of reproach or of humiliation (1 Sam. 24:14; 2 Sam. 3:8; 9:8; 16:9). Paul calls false apostles "dogs" (Phil. 3:2). Those who are shut out of the kingdom of heaven are also so designated (Rev. 22:15). Persecutors are called "dogs" (Ps. 22:16). Hazael's words, "Thy servant which is but a dog" (2 Kings 8:13), are spoken in mock humility=impossible that one so contemptible as he should attain to such power.