why do they say sick as a dog

From Ehud Maimon in Jerusalem : I would appreciate it if you could help me find the origin of the expression sick as a dog. There are several expressions of the form sick as a. , that date from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Sick as a dog is actually the oldest of them, recorded from 1705; it is probably no more than an attempt to give force to a strongly worded statement of physical unhappiness. It was attached to a dog, I would guess, because dogs often seem to have been linked to things considered unpleasant or undesirable; down the years they have had an incredibly bad press, linguistically speaking (think of dog tired, dog in the manger, dog s breakfast, go to the dogs, dog Latin big dictionaries have long entries about all the ways that
dog has been used in a negative sense).


At various times cats, rats and horses have been also dragged in to the expression, though an odd thing is that horses can t vomit; one nineteenth-century writer did suggest that this version was used when a person is exceedingly sick without vomiting. The strangest member of the set was used by Jonathan Swift in 1731: Poor Miss, she s sick as a Cushion, she wants nothing but stuffing (stop laughing at the back). The modern sick as a parrot recorded from the 1970s at one time much overused by British sportsmen as the opposite of over the moon refers to a state of deep mental depression rather than physical illness; this perhaps comes from instances of parrots contracting psittacosis and passing it to their human owners.


Why do we say someone is as sick as a dog? This appears to be one of the less well-researched phrases in our language, though it seems to be agreed by etymologists that it is a fairly old phrase. Most etymologists agree that it dates back to the 1700s (1705 being the most-often quoted date), and one reference on the internet claims that the Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms dates it even further back to the 1500s. Timing origin aside, why do we compare ourselves to dogs of all creatures when we re sick? Theory 1: In the UK, we refer to vomiting as being sick, and some etymologists believe this is the original meaning and origin of the sick as a dog phrase.


Dogs are notorious for being merrily unselective in what they choose to munch, and are equally notorious for the after-effects of their feeding-fests. Nothing like cleaning up puddles of dog vomit after your pup found an unlocked snack drawer, or decided to eat that painted pasta-necklace your little sister made you last summer. Theory 2: Dogs have been associated with several negative connotations in terms of speech. As sick as a dog is only one of many dog-related references which link dogs with unfortunate situations. Other phrases of this type include: dog-tired, dog s breakfast and saying that things have gone to the dogs. The question is: Why are dogs associated with all these negative things?


The answer seems to be unclear, although it may be linked to the fact that dogs are one of the best-observed creatures since they are such common pets. For this reason their various bad habits are far more likely to be documented in language than other animals, and we are far more likely to link their behaviour and feelings to describe how we re feeling. Related Products This site is working in affiliation with Amazon. com (for USA visitors) and The Nutri Centre (for UK visitors). If you like a product that was recommended anywhere on this website, please consider buying these products via the links on this site, to help keep this website running. Thanks

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