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Putting on the dog

Posted by ESC on February 26, 2009 at 13:17

In Reply to: Putting on the dog posted by Graham Cambray on February 26, 2009 at 12:59:

: : Where does the phrase "putting on the dog" originate?

: This question has been covered twice in this forum, in 2001 and 2007 - and the responses then seem to have covered this far better than I could hope to. Please see and (GC)

Adding to what's in the archives:

PUT ON THE DOG - An ostentatious display. For example, overdress to impress. I remember a theory that this phrase got its start when fashionable ladies carried around little dogs. But I haven't found anything that supports that. "We may pretty precisely trace this saying to fun-loving Yale University in the 1860s, for it is defined for the general public by a former student. 'To put on the dog,' writes Lyman H. Bagg in 'Four Years at Yale (circa 1869), 'is to make a flashy display, to cut a swell.'.If the phrase was ironic from the start, it probably referred to dogs' somewhat foolish attempts to act dignified." From "Fine Kettle of Fish and 150 Other Animal Expressions" by Michael Macrone, MJF Books, New York, N.Y., 1995, previously published as "Animalogies." Page 94.

(As a dog lover I dispute that. But whatever.)