Learn 15+ most common Dog Idioms in English with meaning and examples.
Common Dog Idioms in English
(The) Tail That Wags the Dog
- Meaning: A small part of something that controls the whole thing
- Example: Darlene is the company president, but if you look closely you’ll see it’s really her assistant making the decisions. It’s a case of the tail wagging the dog.
Dog in the Manger
- Meaning: A person who prevents others from using something, even though the person himself or herself does not want it
- Example: Bobby is being a dog in the manger – he won’t let the other kids play with his ball, even though he never uses it.
Note: This idiom originates with a fable by Aesop about a dog who sleeps on straw that sheep could otherwise eat.
- Meaning: A flashy presentation, often in a marketing context
- Example: The salesman gave us a real dog-and-pony show, but I’m still not sure what the product will cost.
- Meaning: Intensely competitive
- Example: Real estate sales is a dog-eat-dog world. It’s not for everyone.
Note: This is most often used with world, as in this example.
Every Dog Has His (Its) Day
- Meaning: Everyone has a moment of fame, power, or influence
- Example: Joe has had a run doff bad luck. But every dog has his day, and today he was singled out for praise by the president.
Every Man and His Dog
- Meaning: Many people
- Example: Every man and his dog wanted to interview me after I on the race.
Note: This is occasionally used outside Australia.
Fight Like Cat and Dog
- Meaning: Continually arguing with each other
- Example: Those two fight like cat and dog, so please don’t put them together on the project.
Go See a Man About a Dog
- Meaning: Go to the bathroom (said as a euphemism)
- Example: I’ll be right back-I’ve got to go see a man about a dog.
Go to the Dogs
- Meaning: To become disordered, to decay
- Example: This has always been a nice hotel, but it’s going to the dogs.
Have a Dog in the Hunt (Fight, Race)
- Meaning: To support a certain person in a competition
- Example: I’ll be happy working under either Carl or Sheila-I don’t have a dog in that hunt.
Note: Hunt is the usual version in the USA.
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
- Meaning: To avoid stirring up a problem; to leave things alone
- Example: Alice and Maria have argued over office space in the past. It’s best to let sleeping dogs lie and leave them where they are.
Puppies and Rainbows
- Meaning: Perfect, ideal (usually used slightly sarcastically, in contrast with a less ideal situation)
- Example: At first my marriage was all puppies and rainbows, but then reality set in.
Note: Puppy dogs and rainbows is also used.
Puppy Dog Eyes
- Meaning: A begging look
- Example: I try to be strict with my daughter, but when she looks at me with those puppy dog eyes, I buy her candy.
My Dogs Are Barking
- Meaning: My feet hurt
- Example: My car broke down, and I had to walk all the way home from the mall. I’m OK, but my dogs are barking!
Note: A well-known shoe brand, accordingly, is called Hush Puppies.
Rain Cats and Dogs
- Meaning: Rain very heavily
- Example: It’s raining cats and dogs. Look at it pour!
Teach an Old Dog New Tricks
- Meaning: To change someone’s long-established habits. Usually used in the negative: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
- Example: We tried to explain social media to our grandfather, but it’s no use-you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
Common Dog Idioms in English | Image
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