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Going to the dogs

Going to the dogs is an idiom with uncertain origins. We will look at the meaning of the term going to the dogs, the various possible sources of its origin, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Going to the dogs describes something on the downgrade, something that is worse than it used to be, something that is deteriorating. The origin of the term going to the dogs is in question. One theory is that food that had rotted and was not fit for human consumption was thrown to the dogs. Another possible origin is the Dutch phrase toe goe toe do dogs, which translates as “money gone, credit gone, too”. A third, less plausible theory comes from China, and the fact that dogs were relegated to outside the walls of cities. If someone was cast outside the walls of the city, they were going to the dogs. Many consider the phrase going to the dogs to have its origins in the practice of going to dog races in order to bet on the outcome, sometimes losing one’s money and becoming destitute in the process.  In any case, the idiom going to the dogs goes back to at least the middle of the 1700s.


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Examples

Speaking of going to the dogs — Wade Won is a veterinarian who is now working as a diagnostic imaging resident at Mississippi State University, where he reads The Blade online. (The Toledo Blade)

The future of security at Logan International Airport is going to the dogs. (The Boston Herald)

If you think, as I do, that our beautiful bayfront will be “going to the dogs,” please contact your councilperson or the mayor. (The Corpus Christi Caller)

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