Dog Days

Meanings of “Dog Days”

The phrase “dog days” means very hot days from the month of July to August. This is because it is extremely hot in July and August with the summer season in full swing.

Origin of “Dog Days”

The phrase “dog days” is stated to have originated from the Roman coinage of the term Sirius, which means Dog Star. It is one of the larges stars in the Canis, the big constellation. However, it has first entered the English world through John de Trevisa’s book, Bartholomeus De Proprietatibus. It was published circa 1398. The phrase goes thus: “In the mydle of the monthe Iulius the Canicular dayes begyn.” Later, the word canicular was replaced with dog days. Since then, it has become popular as “dog days.”

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Dog Days of Summer by Meena Alexander

“In the dog days of summer as muslin curls on its own heat
And crickets cry in the black walnut tree

The wind lifts up my life
And sets it some distance from where it was.

Still Marco Polo Airport wore me out,
I slept in a plastic chair, took the water taxi.”

These lines are penned down by a popular Indian English poet. She is of the view that she wears muslin in the hot days of summer and the wind blows when she is going to the Marco Polo Airport where she enjoys sitting on a plastic chair. The phrase shows the luxury that comes to the poet. The phrase is used with its intended meaning.

Example #2

Dog Days by Derek Mahon

“‘When you stop to consider
The days spent dreaming of a future
And say then, that was my life.’

For the days are long
From the first milk van
To the last shout in the night,
An eternity. But the weeks go by
Like birds; and the years,the years
Fly past anti-clockwise
Like clock hands in a bar-mirror.”

The Irish poet has beautifully summed up the passage of time that seems to him the dog days of his life. He states that his whole life used to revolve around those days of thinking and dreaming about the future from dawn to dusk. Those days, however, have passed like the birds; and now he recalls them. The phrase shows its usage as an extended metaphor.

Example #3

Dog Days Are Over Florence + the Machine

“Happiness, hit her like a train on a track
Coming towards her, stuck still no turning back
She hid around corners and she hid under beds
She killed it with kisses and from it she fled
With every bubble she sank with a drink
And washed it away down the kitchen sink

The dog days are over
The dog days are done
The horses are coming so you better run”

These lines speak about the singers’ strange story of a train that hits a girl who hides under the bed. The mention of drink, bubble, and kitchen sink shows the flashback technique the singers have adopted to show their fractured thinking. The phrase shows in the end that the difficult days of the singers are over. It means the phrase has been used as an extended metaphor.

Example #4

Dog Days by Aidan Higgins

Aidan Higgins sheds light on the difficult days of the Higgins family, saying that now all the male members of the family have dispersed. Also, now one of their family members is in prison, while they are living in Brittas with a school headmistress. The dog years phrase has been used in the title to show the difficult period the Higgins family has had to go through.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “It is during the dog days of summer that people hate coming out and prefer staying indoors to avoid heat strokes.”

Example #2: “Everyone should drink plenty of water during the dog days as dehydration is common during those days.”

Example #3: “Katherine and I once went on a hoke during the dog days. It was like testing our endurance because it felt pretty tough.”

Example #4: “Edward wanted to go away on a long vacation during the dog days of summer as his city was unbearable during those months.”

Example #5: “I feel bad for the people who have to work out in the open during the dog days. It must be so hard for them to get through the days.”