Until the last dog is hung is first found in print in the 1860s, though the idiom may be older. We will examine the meaning of the idiom until the last dog is hung, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.
Until the last dog is hung describes staying somewhere long after others have left, to stay very late at a party when others have gone home, to attend a concert, sporting event or social gathering and be the very last to leave, to persevere until the end. The idiom until the last dog is hung has been in use since at least the mid-1800s, though it may be older. The word dog, in this case, refers to a human. Petty thieves and indigents have been referred to as dogs since the fourteenth century. It is tempting to believe that to stay until the last dog is hung is a reference to a massive execution event, in which criminals are hung in succession.
We’re going to fight this action until the last dog is hung. (The New York Sun)
The father, Frederick Plauman, said, “I will follow this thing through until the last dog is hung.” (The Buffalo News)
” I told him he could leave and said I wouldn’t sign until the last dog was hung.” (CBC)
Fulfilling his duties “until the last dog is hung” is the way Russell Van Syckle described his enforced retirement on March 31, end of the month that saw his 70th birthday. (The New Jersey Herald)