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Go to the dogs

Posted by Smokey Stover on August 20, 2007

In Reply to: Go to the dogs Posted by Onni Thompson on August 19, 2007

: I recently read a book called "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight" by author Alexandra Fuller. Does this title represent a saying that has a particular meaning in the English language of the British?

Yes, it does. Since the 16th or 17th century, "to the dogs," has meant to destruction and ruin. Something can "go to the dogs," meaning that it becomes less and less desirable. (Something can also be "thrown to the dogs," which doesn't mean the same thing, but seems to refer to the tendency of dogs to eat virtually anything.) If someone says of someone else that he's "going to the dogs," it may mean that he has let himself go, that he no longer looks after himself properly, doesn't eat well, doesn't groom himself well, and the like. If he has let his house go to the dogs, it means that he doesn't maintain it properly, doesn't fix it as needed, doesn't repaint it, probably doesn't mow the lawn. I don't know why dogs.

The book title is doubtless a pun, Where shall we go tonight? Let's go to the dogs. (Laughter.) Or, in the style of Groucho Marx, "Where shall we go tonight?" "I don't know about you, but I'm going to the dogs."

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