Until every dog is hung

Posted by ESC on February 28, 2002

In Reply to: Until every dog is hung posted by Wendi on February 28, 2002

: What could this possibly mean? My mother said it the other day, and she said it was an old phrase but she didn't know the origin of it. Any ideas?

From the archives:
"until the last dog is hung - The earliest appearance of this phrase in print that we have been able to locate is in a novel by Stewart Edward White. Called 'The Blazed Trail,' it was published in 1902 and contains this line: 'They were loyal. It was a point of honor with them to stay 'until the last dog was hung.' White spent much of his early life on the frontier, first in the West, later in the Hudson Bay country. We would hazard the guess that the original 'dogs' hung were of the human species and that the reference is to the kind of vigilante lynchings known as 'necktie parties' in the early West. Nowadays, of course, the expression is most often heard in reference to the inevitable two or three people at every cocktail party who hang around everlastingly -- 'until the last dog is hung' and the host shows them the door." Source: the Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988).