My son said to me the other day, “I’m as sick as a dog” while someone else commented that it was “raining cats and dogs.” These idioms are a part of everyday conversation and I thought I’d look into some of them a little further.
Every dog has its day
John Heywood recorded this proverb in the 1562 edition of Proverbs and Epigrams and Shakespeare used it in Hamlet, 1603:
Let Hercules himself do what he may,
The cat will mew and dog will have his day.
This phrase implies that every person would have a period of power or influence in life.
As sick as a dog
This one reminds me of my own dog, who used to go out into our compost pile and have a feast. We didn’t know what he was doing until he started coming into the house and throwing up a few nights in a row! Dogs do often eat anything they can find and it doesn’t always agree with their system. This phrase dates back to the 17th century. Oh, and my son was definitely as sick as a dog!
Lead a dog’s life
Long ago, dogs were not considered to be the beloved family members they are now. To lead a dog’s life meant you had a miserable existence. More recently, we like to use the phrase when we are sure someone has the ideal life. Dogs lie around, take frequent naps, get served their food and go outside for some exercise everyday.
It’s raining cats and dogs
There isn’t any clear documentation on the origin of this phrase. One popular theory is that thunderstorms create havoc, and are loud and furious. Animals falling from the sky may have just been compared to these fierce storms for nonsensical humor value.