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See a man about a dog

Posted by R. Berg on June 29, 2001

In Reply to: This has been killin me... posted by Bruce Kahl on June 29, 2001

: : I always have been interested in phrases and their origin. But this one has stumped me. The phrase is " I am gonna see a man about a dog" which somehow means I am going to the bathroom. I cant find any explanation how that came about. Can anyone help?

: I cant find the exact origin but maybe someone else can.
: This euphemistic term dates from the Prohibition days of the 1920s, when buying liquor was illegal, and, after repeal, was transferred to other circumstances.

: More:
: going for number one
: going for number two

: and my personal fave:
: give birth to a lawyer

According to Eric Partridge, "A Dictionary of Catch Phrases American and British," this phrase has had three meanings during its history: "I must visit a woman--sexually: late C19-20. Hence, I'm going out for a drink: late C19-20. In C20, often in answer to an inconvenient question about one's destination: I must go to the water-closet, usu. to 'the gents', merely to urinate."

And the following is my opinion, not Partridge's: "See a man about a dog" has an old-fashioned and rural flavor. It calls up an image of life in a community where buying and selling dogs, trading dogs, consulting with men about dogs, were routine errands, perhaps because dogs were essential for hunting or herding.