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Re: "Well, dog my cats!"

Posted by R. Berg on June 03, 2001

In Reply to: "Well, dog my cats!" posted by Patty on June 03, 2001

: Here's a phrase from Great Grandpa's day.... "Well, dog my cats!" People said it, or say it, to express astonishment, I think. But does it mean anything in particular, or did it originally? Thanks. - Patty

My first take on this was that its form suggested "Damn my soul" minced very fine, enriched by the idea of cursing oneself by wishing a dog set on one's cats, and that it wouldn't be in the books. But here's what the Oxford Eng. Dict. has:

DOG [verb, sense #8]: U.S. slang. Used in imprecations (perhaps sometimes with a reference to sense 3). Cf. "dog on it" (DOG [noun] 15j), DOG-GONE.
1860 BARTLETT "Dict. Amer.," "Dogged," a euphemistic oath; as, 'I'll be dogged if I do it'. 1884 MARK TWAIN . . . Why, dog my cats! there must have been a [etc.]

DOG [verb, sense #3]: To . . . set a dog on; fig., to hound or drive into.

DOG [noun, sense #15j]: 'Dog on it': a form of imprecation; see also DOG-GONE.

DOG-GONE. U.S. slang. Also 'dog on'. Generally taken as a deformation of the profane "God damn": cf. "dang," "darn." But some think the original form was 'dog on it,' to be compared with 'pox on it,' etc. . . .