Posted by James Briggs on June 29, 2001
In Reply to: See a man about a dog posted by R. Berg on June 29, 2001
: : : I always have been interested in phrases and their origin. But this one has stumped me. The phrase is " I am gonna see a man about a dog" which somehow means I am going to the bathroom. I cant find any explanation how that came about. Can anyone help?
: : I cant find the exact origin but maybe someone else can.
: : This euphemistic term dates from the Prohibition days of the 1920s, when buying liquor was illegal, and, after repeal, was transferred to other circumstances.
: : More:
: : going for number one
: : going for number two
: : and my personal fave:
: : give birth to a lawyer
: According to Eric Partridge, "A Dictionary of Catch Phrases American and British," this phrase has had three meanings during its history: "I must visit a woman--sexually: late C19-20. Hence, I'm going out for a drink: late C19-20. In C20, often in answer to an inconvenient question about one's destination: I must go to the water-closet, usu. to 'the gents', merely to urinate."
: And the following is my opinion, not Partridge's: "See a man about a dog" has an old-fashioned and rural flavor. It calls up an image of life in a community where buying and selling dogs, trading dogs, consulting with men about dogs, were routine errands, perhaps because dogs were essential for hunting or herding.
When someone says that they are going to see a man about a dog they really mean that they are unwilling to reveal the true nature of their business. The expression comes from the long forgotten 1866 play 'Flying Scud' in which one of the characters uses the words as an excuse to get away from a tricky situation. This is the only thing that seems to have survived from the play.