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take this lying down

Posted by Shae on December 09, 2005

In Reply to: take this lying down posted by Smokey Stover on December 09, 2005

: : : "I never said I'd take this lying down"
: : : What does it mean!?

: : It means to accept something meekly without protest. According to my "Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable", the metaphor is of a cowed dog; when dogs (and other pack animals) are threatened by the alpha male of the pack, they show their surrender by lying down in a submissive position.

: Are you sure Brewer's explanation is not an example of folk etymology? I'm not so sure that lying down is the only way dogs show submission, nor that this is the origin of the expression, logical as it sounds. No, I have no other candidate, just more caution than I usually exhibit in such cases. (I actually practice folk etymology a lot myself.) SS

In his book 'The Behaviour of Wolves, Dogs and Related Canids,' Michael W. Fox (I kid you not!) describes the various stages of submissive behaviour displayed by a pack member when confronted by the alpha male. They include avoidance of eye contact, loud whimpering and, if all else fails, lying on its back to expose the abdomen and throat.