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My dogs are barking

Posted by Smokey Stover on January 12, 2009 at 05:43

In Reply to: My dogs are barking posted by ESC on January 11, 2009 at 20:43:

: : Where did the phrase "my dogs are barking" come from?

: Looks to me like the question is, how did dogs come to mean feet or shoes? Dogs - usually plural, a person's foot or feet, as in "shake one's dogs" meaning dance or "barking dogs." Citations from T.A. Dorgan, in N.Y. Eve. Jour., 1913: "Waitin' for my sore dog to heal up." And dogs as shoes, 1914: "He's been (shining) those old dogs for an hour now." Another citation: "A Marine never calls a foot anything but a dog. 1919, Ladies Home Journal, September. 1966, "My dogs are barking." 1966, "T. Pendleton," Iron Orchard. From Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 1, A-G by J.E. Lighter, Random House, New York, 1994. Page 616.

The Oxford English Dictionary indicaes that dogs as feet originated with rhyming slang:

:14. pl. Short for dog's meat; feet. Rhyming slang."

In the examples cited by the OED, which begin in 1924 (pace Dorgan, 1913), "dogs" are always feet, not shoes. In my youth (in rural America)I heard the phrase, "My dogs are barking," quite often, in the meaning "My feet are hurting."

The OED describes many interesting uses of dog, such as dog and bone = telephone, in rhyming slang, and putting on the dog for dressing or otherwise roceeding with ostentation. It even includes what I always thought was college slang. When your blind date turns out to be a horror, or even just not to your taste, you say, "My date's a dog," or "She's a real dog."

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