A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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Dog fight

A fight to the finish until someone gives up or dies dates from the 16th century. The expression was revived in WWI, usually as one word, dogfight, to...

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Dog house/kennel

Military slang from the late 19th century for the guard house, a place of disgrace, hence to be in the dog house means to be in trouble or disgrace.

Dog in a manger

The Dog in Manger is the title of one of Aesop’s Fables written about 550 BC According to the fable, a dog in the manger is someone who begrudges othe...

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Dog Latin

Bad or sham Latin, dates from the 1600s. See also dog and cod.


A dog’s ear is the turning down of the corner of a page in a book thereby resembling an ear of a dog, which dates from the mid-1600s. Although it orig...

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An American metaphor describing ruthless, uncompromising, competitiveness, dates from the mid-19th century and now part of Standard English.


Means utterly exhausted, resembling the way a dog flops down when it has over-exerted itself. The expression dates from the late 18th/early 19th centu...

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Dog’s bollocks

British vulgar slang used to signify a superlative of anything dates from the 1940s but began to enjoy revived popularity from the 1980s. More genteel...

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Dog’s breakfast

British colloquial expression meaning a complete mess, which Eric Partridge maintains is possibly of Glaswegian origin from the early 1930s.

Dog’s dinner

This expression is mostly used in the same way as dog’s breakfast but it is also sometimes used in the sense of smartly or overly dressed, as in ‘all...

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Dog’s life

A dog’s life is a life of misery and hardship and the expression dates from the 1500s.


Obstinate and determined, from the behaviour of dogs, dates from the late 18th century.


Doggerel is a derogatory word, dating from late 13th/early 14th century that means trivial or undignified verse, deriving from the figurative use of t...

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As in to lie doggo means to lie quietly but alert, just as dogs do, a British expression that dates from the late 19th century.


US slang, used as an intensifier, perhaps a euphemism for goddamn or God damn it, the origin remains obscure, first attested from the mid-19th century...

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