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Good grammar don't feed the bulldog

Posted by Bob on January 16, 2001

In Reply to: Sorry doesn't feed the bulldog posted by ESC on January 16, 2001

: : : I use it to mean saying sorry isn't enough. What is the origin?

: : In business, to "feed the bulldog" is to generate sufficient revenue to meet expenses. I don't know much about bulldogs, but I'm willing to bet they get aggressive and insistently unhappy when not fed on a regular schedule. Overhead costs tend to be like that, too. The rent must be paid. The payroll must be met. Productive actions, not mere words, will feed the bulldog

: I wasn't sure what the "bulldog" is and I'm glad you cleared that up. I wanted to add that, in one of those eerie Phrase Finder coincidences, I saw a variation of the phrase right after reading Cord's post. An exchange between a district attorney and a reporter ("Guilty as Sin" by Tami Hoag): "'I meant it,' she said, fishing her keys out of her coat pocket. 'I don't have anything for you.' ''No comment' don't feed the bulldog.'"

Ah. That raises another point. The phrase is almost always as you quoted it, with the less-grammatical, more colloquial "don't" versus the more conventional "doesn't." Why? I suppose the rough-hewn nature of the quote lends itself to the less polished, slangy version. Euphony. It's a little like "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing." Rendered into grammatical standard English, the phrase deflates and loses all its power. It swings no longer.