Learn idioms with comprehensive meaning, examples and origin details.


Idioms related to Dog

sick as a dog

as sick as a dog


  • To be very sick.
  • The phrase refers to being in a state that is very unpleasant.

Example Sentences

  1. You should not go to study with him today. He seemed to be as sick as a dog according to his friends.
  2. No one likes being as sick as a dog, that is why it is important to take care of one’s self on a regular basis and eat with moderation.
  3. Going to that party would mean that you would drink to your heart’s content and come back to be as sick as a dog in the morning. Why do you do such a thing to yourself?

Dog was considered an undesirable animal in the 17th century. So much so that there are a lot of phrases which refer to them negatively [tired as a dog, dog in the manger, down to the dogs, dog’s breakfast, dirty dog, etc.]. Sick as dog refers to being so sick that one may feel like vomiting. The first literary use of the expression is in 1705. The phrase still reflects in a negative sense as it was intended back then.

Synonyms and Variants

  • Sick as a Parrot.
  • Sick as a horse (when one is sick without the sensation of vomiting).
  • Sick as a cat.

man’s best friend

man’s best friend


  • It refers to animals that are of use to human beings, mostly used to address dogs.
  • Loyalty and valuable services that dogs provide to human beings make them worthy of being called man’s best friend.
  • Dog

Example Sentences

  1. When his dog died he cried for many days in the memory of his only best friend.
  2. A dog is undoubtedly a man’s best friend.

Dogs were used for hunting and defense before the start of the 18th century. Post that they have been domesticated as pets. It is not certain about the origination of this phrase since from the time dogs have become pets, their services have been valued far more. In fact, it is considered one of the reasons why dogs were taken as pets from a utility animal. The phrase is said to have originated in the New York Literary Journal in 1821.

The phrase became popular in 1870, in Missouri, United States of America, a farmer shot his neighbours dog. This resulted in a law suit. In the duration of the law suit, the lawyer of the dog’s family provided many a references to the services and the loyalty of the said dog. He even gave a eulogy in which he referred to dogs in general as man’s best friend.

let sleeping dogs lie

let sleeping dogs lie


  • its best to leave a situation as it is if disturbing it might cause trouble
  • do not instigate trouble by disturbing a situation
  • to leave things as they are in order to avoid disagreement
  • its best not to talk of bad situations if people have forgotten about them


  1. As Eliza was in good spirits that morning, Andy decided not to bring up the argument they had last night. It was best to let sleeping dogs lie.
  2. Since my manager did not ask me anything about me coming late that day, I did not speak to him about it – it is best to let sleeping dogs lie.
  3. Its not that the two parties have finally agreed over the issue, its just that they have let sleeping dogs lie and things continue as they are.
  4. We know that we would never reach an agreement over this matter, so its better to let sleeping dogs lie and not discuss it anymore.
  5. Further investigations into that matter would surely bring to light a lot of controversial decisions, so past governments have just let sleeping dogs lie.
  6. I wanted to tell her what I thought, but then I decided to let sleeping dogs lie.

This phrase has been in use since the 1300s and has reference to waking up sleeping watchdogs, who could be fierce.

go to the dogs

go to the dogs

– something is becoming worse than it normally was
– to become worse in quality or character
– becoming very less successful than it was in the past
– to deteriorate, to become bad
– to decline in looks or health; to be ruined or destroyed

1. Have you seen their car lately? It’s really gone to the dogs.
2. Many things in our home have gone to the dogs during the last 3 months.
3. She was a very successful actress, but her drinking habit and illegal affairs caused her career to go to the dogs.
4. It seems that the reputation of your business has gone to the dogs.

As far back as the 1500s, bad or stale food that was not thought to be suitable for human consumption was thrown to the dogs. The expression caught on and expanded to include any person or thing that came to a bad end, was ruined, or looked terrible.

dog tired

dog tired

– very tired, exhausted
– extremely weary, totally drained.

1. Carl usually got home at around 5 o’clock, dog tired after overtime on the job.
2. Miranda was dog tired after the series. She played every game.
3. Now, I am totally dog tired after the 3 days of journey.

Dog tired is an old English idiom usually hyphenated to dog-tired. An adjectival phrase meaning to be physically exhausted, it derives from an old tale of Alfred the Great who used to send his sons out with his widespread kennels of hunting dogs. Whichever of his sons, be it Athelbrod or Edwin, were able to catch more of the hounds would gain their father’s right hand side at the dinner table that evening. These chases would leave them ‘dog-tired’ yet merry at their victory. The tradition was continued for a few generations but is not noted in literature after Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People.

throw to the wolves

feed, leave or throw to the wolves, dogs or lions

– allow somebody else to be criticized or attacked, often in order to protect one
– to sacrifice someone to save the rest
– to abandon someone to harm
– sacrifice someone, especially so as to save oneself

1. Don’t try to throw my brother to the wolves. I’ll tell the fact about the entire issue.
2. When I got to know that they he is very dangerous person to whom I was dealing with, I felt I’d been thrown to the wolves.
3. If Jessica doesn’t achieve as they expect, they’ll throw her to the dogs.

The first term comes from Aesop’s fable about a nurse who threatens to throw her charge to the wolves if the child does not behave. [First half of 1900s]

dog’s life

live or lead a dog’s life

– a very unhappy and unpleasant life
– a miserable, unhappy existence
– to lead a drab or boring life

1. Mark’s been leading a dog’s life since he was fired from the job.
2. He’s been living a dog’s life since his wife left him.
3. Poor Richard really leads a dog’s life.
4. I’ve been working so hard. I’m tired of living a dog’s life.
5. I’ve got to go to the market, then cook a meal, then pick Davis up from the airport – it’s a dog’s life.

This Idiomatic expression was first recorded in a 16th-century manuscript and alludes to the miserable subservient existence of dogs during this era. By the 1660s there was a proverb: “It’s a dog’s life, hunger and ease.”

dog in the manger

dog in the manger

– one who prevents others from enjoying something despite having no use for it
– spiteful and mean-spirited
– someone who keeps something that they do not want in order to prevent someone else from getting it
– a person who selfishly keeps something that he or she does not really need or want so that others may notuse or enjoy it.

1. Stop being such a dog in the manger and let your sister ride your bike if you’re not using it.
2. Why be a dog in the manger? If you aren’t going to use those tickets, let someone else have them.
3. Young children are probably the best examples of dogs in the manger, refusing to let other children play with their toys even though they are not playing with them themselves.

The first specific reference to ‘a dog in a manger’ is quite old, being first cited in William Bullein’s A dialogue against the feuer pestilence, 1564:
“Like vnto cruell Dogges liyng in a Maunger, neither eatyng the Haye theim selues ne sufferyng the Horse to feed thereof hymself.”

‘Dog in the manger’ is still used allusively to refer to any churlish behavior of the ‘spoilsport’ sort. If Google searches are anything to go by, you are just as likely to find it written as ‘Dog in the manager’, a surreal version that escaped even the inventive Steinhowel.


The expression ‘dog in a manger’ comes from a fable of the same name written by Aesop, who was possibly Ethiopian but spent much of his life in Athens. It is not known exactly when the first of Aesop’s fables were written as the fables were originally handed down from one generation to the next just like a myth or a legend. It is, however, believed that Aesop lived from about 620 to 560 B.C.

Fables are short stories which illustrate a particular moral and teach a lesson to children. The theme and characters appeal to children and the stories are often humorous and entertaining. Fables can also be described as tales or yarns which have a message in their narrative such as a parable might have. Fables can often pass into our culture as myths and legends. This particular fable goes something like this:

A Dog looking out for its afternoon nap jumped into the manger of an ox and lay there cosily upon the straw. But soon the ox, returning fom its afternoon work, came up to the manger and wanted to eat some of the straw. The dog, angry at being awakened from its slumber, stood up and barked at the Ox, and whenever it came near attempted to bite it. At last the Ox had to give up the hope of getting at the straw, and went away hungry.

The expression means that people often begrudge others what they cannot enjoy themselves.


In British English, 1555–65.

dog eat dog

dog eat dog

– a very competitive world
– ruthlessly competitive business environment.
– marked by destructive or ruthless competition; without self-restraint, ethics, etc.
– do anything to be successful, even if what they do harms other people
– Getting ahead in life at any cost
– a place or situation that is highly competitive

1. The only rule of the marketplace was dog-eat-dog.
2. It’s a dog-eat-dog industry.
3. You have to look out for your own interests; it’s a dog-eat-dog world.
4. Your company fired you two days after you had a heart attack? Well, it’s certainly a dog-eat-dog world.
4. It’s a dog eat dog world out there. You have to do whatever you can to survive.
5. Many colleges are dog-eat-dog. People will compete at any cost for higher grades and not care if others get hurt in the process.
6. That school is dog-eat-dog. The students cheat and even destroy each other’s work to get better grades.”
7. In film business it’s dog eat dog – one day you’re a star, the next you’ve been replaced by younger talent.
8. In a dog eat dog world, there is intense competition and rivalry, where everybody thinks only of himself or herself.
9. In the dog eat dog world out there it pays to know who one’s real friends are.

Present since 1930.

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