Dog’s Dinner

Meanings of “Dog’s Dinner”

 The phrase “dog’s dinner” means dog’s mannerisms, confusion or confusing mess, or smartly ostentatious manners.

 Origin of “Dog’s Dinner”

The phrase dog’s dinner is stated to have originated in the United Kingdom in the previous century. It has been derived from “a dog’s breakfast” which occurs in Scarlet and Hyssop, by E. F. Benson. It was published in 1902. It goes thus, “”Scraps only, scraps from other places. It always reminds me of a dog’s dinner,” said Lady Alston; “and all of us who live here are like scraps for a dog’s dinner, too. Bits of things, remnants, a jumble sale, with everything priced above its proper value.” However, The Waco News Tribune has used this phrase in mannerisms such as “all dressed up like a dog’s dinner.” It was used in 1933 in its October edition.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Dog’s Dinner by Angela Wybrow

“I sit at her door and I patiently wait,
With my eyes fixed upon her mug and her plate.
I watch her eat and I feel mesmerized;
My chocolatey eyes never leaving the prize.

She tells me to sit and stay on the landing,
But I give her a look of misunderstanding;
Obediently, I sit there for a short while,
Giving her my very best shot at a smile.

As the minutes tick by, I begin to edge nearer,
Hoping my message is growing a tad clearer;
Okay, so I’m invading her personal space,
But who can resist my cute furry face?

Soon I am sat there, right by her knee,
Hoping she’ll share her dinner with me.
She tells me she finds my gaze quite unnerving,
As I sit there and wait for my personal serving.”

These stanzas relate the poet’s encounter with an old lady whose privacy she has violated but with a pinch of salt in her words that she has a “cute furry face” when she sits by her knee to wait for “personal serving.” The use of the phrase as the title of the poem shows its appearance in the poem through the behavior of the poet.

Example #2

The Dog’s Dinner by Russel Edson

An old woman was just cooking her dog’s dinner when she decided to
review the general decline of things in her west window.
Yes, there the old sun bleeds and dies of childbirth.
In the east the anemic child rises, stillborn . . .

When she turns back to the pot where she cooks her dog’s dinner she
discovers that it is her dog that she is cooking for her dog’s dinner.
How strange that when cooking a dog’s dinner one cooks the very dog
for whom the dinner was being cooked . . .

In these two stanzas, the poet presents an old woman who is cooking her dog’s dinner and then reviews her situation. She sees that there are many other things happening around her, but again she turns to the cooking and comes to the point that she is cooking the same dog for whom she is cooking the dinner. This proves quite funny. However, it shows different shades of meanings of the phrase.

Example #3

Your Brave Face by Nik Kershaw

“Tell me you can take it
You’re okay more or less
Just another dog’s dinner
Just another fine mess
You don’t need my charity
You can deal with this
Shrug it all off, shrug it all off
That’s the way it is.”

In these lines,  the singer states that if his friend is ok, then it is just another dog’s dinner that looks fine despite its being a mess. The multiplicity of meanings wrapped around the phrase shows the dexterity of the singer as well as the writer, for the phrase is not only a connotation but also a denotation.

Example #4

When Pigs Fly: Training Success with Impossible Dogs by Jane Killion

Mealtime is the grand-daddy of all reinforcement opportunities. Do you want to teach your dog to start up the riding tractor and mow the lawn for you? You could probably do it if you used your dog’s dinner as reinforcer – that is how exciting dinner is to most dogs. The sight of that food dish is invested with intrinsic meaning that can turn your dog’s eyes in pinwheels. Well, even if you couldn’t teach your dog to mow the law, your could probably teach him something useful to you. You could tell your dog to “go to your crate” before you feed him dinner.

This passage occurs in a famous book and is addressed to the reader to let him know what a dog’s dinner in denotative usage is and how to deal with a dog. The phrase has been used as a beautiful denotation.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “I am afraid they are not even aware of dog’s dinner and other things prevalent in the kitchen; they are merely pretending to know it.”

Example #2: “I was seeing him after a year and didn’t he look like dong’s dinner! I was astounded at the change in him.”

Example #3: “Julian made a complete dog’s dinner of the painting in the backyard. I was so disappointed.”

Example #4: “Although he was dressed wrong for the occasion, he still managed to look like dog’s dinner.”

Example #5: “After making sure that he has come to the point of learning dog’s dinner, he left his city to live in another city.”