Dock One’s Pay

Meanings of “Dock One’s Pay”

The phrase “dock one’s pay” means to reduce, or deduct the amount from one’s pay, or salary. The partial payment is often a forced deduction.

Origin of “Dock One’s Pay”

The phrase “dock one’s pay” is derived from the old English word “dock” which means to cut short. It was mostly used for cutting the tail of an animal. The first use of this phrase appeared in Chaucer’s The Reeve’s Tale from The Canterbury Tales which is stated to have been published in 1386 or around. The phrase in the tale goes thus;

“His heer was by his erys ful round yshorn;
His top was dokked lyk a preest biforn.”

Later, the phrase appeared in the writings of James Madison circa 1783-84. He has used it with the pay saying, “They will not only be docked of their half-pay but will run great hazard of being put off.” Since then, the phrase has been used in the same sense.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

News of Unexpected Demise of Little Boy Blue by Robert Penn Warren

Little Boy Blue, come blow your horn,
That sheep’s in the meadow, the cow’s in the corn.
Little Boy, will you make stand and call
From first dawn-robin to last dew-fall?
It’s no excuse you are young and careless,
With your thing-a-bob little and your little chest hairless,
For people have duties to perform at all ages –
Hurry up, little Boy, or I’ll dock your wages.

This stanza talks about a boy who’s dead and is threatened by his owner for not tending the animals properly. The cow is in the cornfield, while the sheep are in the meadow but he is roaming around carelessly. Therefore, his owner does not accept his excuse and tells him straight that he would dock his wages.

Example #2

Martyrtov by Imiuswi Aborigine

Elevate to a higher mind state to overcome the prevalence of hate
They made me fight, I make you think
Forced by aggression to the brink
But I don’t sway
Planted firmly like a dock to the bay, wanna dock my pay
Cause I won’t play
Serious, lash out at injustice like furious
They Learned they mistrust us, to me it’s curious
Already waste nuff time with the squabble and fuss
I got a world to change with the rhymes I bust
Penetrate the outer crust, Eartheseed.”

In the above lyrics, the singer sings in the praise of uprising, claiming that he has forced the people to think about the status quo. He, then, asks that he may see a reduction in his salary as he has refused to dance to the tunes of others. That is the reason that all the people do not trust him, for he has changed the world through his melodies. The phrase shows its use as a denotation.

Example #3

Julianna and the Autobiography of Pain by Judith A. Helmker

That would be already with me. Maybe I could just get it done over the Christmas holiday. If I had to be gone longer than that, they would have to dock my pay. I’ll talk to Union leaders. Jonathan thought it would be all right. When I was going to have my knee surgery the doctor told me I would just be off my feet for a few days. With that in mind I consented to the surgery. I really did not know too much about it, but I thought I would go  to the library and read about it a little.

In this passage, the narrator states that if he would go on long holidays the company may cut his salary despite his understanding with Jonathan, the trader union leader. In fact, the first-person narrator is of the opinion that even if he is in a medical condition and deserves paid leave, he may face a cut in salary. The phrase is used with its actual meaning.

Example #4

I Found My Thrill on Parliament Hill: Not Just Another Political Memoir by Nicole Chénier-Cullen

He was being an ass again. I could tell Brentwood was upset. We were eight weeks into the job with the new minister. He rushed into my office as soon as I came in that morning, his face red and his kiss curls a tangled mess. “If you’re not at your desk by eight o’clock every morning, I’m going to dock your pay,” he proclaimed.

This passage, from a biography, talks about Jack Sydney George Cullen, often called ‘Bud’. He sheds light on his political career, stating that Brentwood did not know how to work with the political people, the reason that he gets the warning. The phrase occurs when the new minister states that he would dock the pay. The phrase is used in its exact meaning.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “If the manager dares to dock my pay,” said Nathan, “he’ll have to pay ten times than what he owes me.”

Example #2: “When docking Monty’s pay by mistake, the manager increased the argument. Later, he apologized and agreed to add it in the next paycheck.”

Example #3: “When I visited the factory last time, they docked my pay and made necessary deductions. However, as an accountant, I docked the manager’s pay and made necessary deductions.”

Example #4: “Although Judith deserves to have full pay as she was on paid leave on medical grounds, the accountant docked her pay without citing any reason.”

Example #5: “During this pandemic, millions of people either lost their jobs or had to survive with when the firms docked their pay.”