Posted by Bob on August 06, 2000
In Reply to: Meaning of phrases posted by Sue Bullock on August 06, 2000
: Iwould like to find the meaning of the following phrases:
: to go to thedogs
: to put on the dog
: to throw to the dogs
: to teach an old dog new tricks
to "go to the dogs" is to degenerate over a period of time to an animal (less than human) state. Said of people whose appearance or circumstances have fallen on hard times. Also applied to situations ("the politician's polling numbers have gone to the dogs,") etc.
To "put on the dog" is to dress up in one's best in order to make an impression
To "throw to the dogs (or wolves)" is to discard something with no concern for its survival. The image is a pack of wild dogs, who will consume the person or thing discarded.
"You can't teach an old dog new tricks" is very often true in a literal sense, but is applied metaphorically, by pessimists, pointing out the futility of reforming the lifelong habits of a person set in his ways. (I say "his" deliberately. This saying is very rarely applied to women.)