Doggie bag and doggy bag are two spellings of an idiom that began, like most idioms, with a literal meaning. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often descriptors that are spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase or expression that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions that native speakers understand such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, chin up, eye to eye, barking up the wrong tree, bite the bullet, beat a dead horse, hit the nail on the head, kicked the bucket, blow off steam, jump on the bandwagon, piece of cake, hit the sack, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the idiom doggie bag or doggy bag, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.
A doggie bag or doggy bag is a receptacle provided by a restaurant so the patron may take home leftovers from his meal. A doggie bag or doggy bag may be a Styrofoam or cardboard box, a plastic tub, or it may be an actual bag. The doggie bag or doggy bag originated in the United States during World War II as a means to bring home the scraps and bones from one’s dinner to feed the family dog, an austerity measure. Over time, American portions at restaurants grew to the point where it was nearly impossible to finish one’s dinner in one sitting. The doggie bag or doggy bag evolved into a container for a portion of one’s dinner that one expected to eat the next day for lunch, not feed to the family dog. Early doggie bags or doggy bags were wax-lined bags with pictures of dogs on the outside, which were truly suitable for transporting bones and scraps. Most doggie bags or doggy bags today are actually boxes. In fact, a server will most likely ask if you would care for a box, not a doggie bag. The spelling doggie bag is about twice as popular as the spelling doggy bag, though both spellings are acceptable according to the Oxford English Dictionary.
While there might be some debate about whether they should be wrapped up to go from the kitchen or at the patron’s table, leaving an eating place with a doggie bag is now considered socially acceptable. (The Orange County Register)
Perhaps Giada doesn’t want her friends to look piggish on television so she sends them home with a doggie bag on the sly, but to me, the first rule of entertaining is that you should always have food left over at the end of the night. (Over the Mountain Journal)
And even if you bring your brother-in-law who can eat his weight in ziti, everybody usually goes home with a doggy bag. (The Long Island Press)
I wasn’t crazy about the carrot dip, which was almost custard-sweet and accompanied by bubbled, shattering panes of cracker bread that were served — a little clumsily — in a brown paper sack that loitered on the table like a premature doggy bag. (The Evening Standard)