9 Dog Idioms and Expressions

Dogs have been man’s best friends for a long time now. They are a meaningful part of our culture and have played a very important role in our history. Hence, as a result, dogs have also left a paw on our everyday expressions, giving rise to dog idioms.

Dog idioms

There are many idioms and expressions that include dogs, and even though you’ve probably heard them more than once, do you have any idea where they come from? Let’s find out!

  • Dog days of summer: This expression is used to describe a very hot and humid weather. It refers to the period between July 3rd and August 11th. This name is due to the fact that, during this particular period of time, the sun occupies the same region of the sky as Sirius, the most visible star from planet earth, also known as ‘The Dog Star’.
  • As crooked as a dog’s hind leg: We use this phrase to imply someone is dishonest. The origin of the idiom remains unknown but some people say it refers to the way a dog’s hint legs crook when they seat.
  • Like a dog with two tails/Tail that wags the dog: This expression explains itself. We use it to express happiness. And what’s the ultimate indicator of happiness? Yes, a dog’s’ tail.
  • Work like a dog: The origin of this expression dates from the early 1700. Over that period, dogs used to ‘work’ for humans from sun to sun. They were used as hunters and sheepdogs. Nowadays, we use it to say we are working tirelessly or non-stop.

‘Dog idioms and expressions arise as a result of their important role on our history and culture’

  • Call your dogs off: This expression is used to tell someone to stop criticizing or attacking another person. Its origin comes from hunting dogs, who, once they had finished serving their purpose, were called off and returned to their cages. 
  • Raining cats and dogs: Its origin is quite uncertain, but this expression may come from the Greek ‘cata doxa’ which means contrary to experience or belief. So, when we say ‘It’s raining cats and dogs’ what we are saying is that it’s raining unbelievably hard or unexpectedly.

  • Let sleeping dogs lie: This idiom means ‘let things exactly how they are since disturbing them can cause more trouble’. Its origin? Sleeping is what our pets like best and you don’t want to bother them while doing it.
  • Can’t teach an old dog new tricks: It is used to state that someone is unwilling to try new things. However, we don’t like this idiom! Even old dogs can learn new tricks if they want to 😊
  • Go to the dogs: You can use this expression to say something became bad, deteriorated, ruined, or that it’s worse than it used to be. Its origin dates from 1500, when food no longer good or suitable for human consumption, was thrown to the dogs.

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