The pages that follow are an alphabetically arranged catalogue of metaphors, similes, adages and idioms that reference dogs. Their order is, therefore, conceptually random. The explications and interpretations of these terms range from a few lines to extensive discussion. While there is no strict formulation, I have tried to include what I know of the origin and development of each term or phrase. Each entry is illustrated. The attentive reader will soon discover that there are many points where entries are inconsistent with some of the larger themes of this collection and with one another. This reflects the realities of the project. The dynamic of a living language, especially one that borrows from as many languages and traditions as American English, will defeat any attempt to find universal explanations for usage.
Considered alphabetically, the first entry is Alpha Male, the description of a social role for which there are perceived parallels between human and canine behavior. The last entry is “You're the Man now dog,” a meditation on race and language based on the most quoted line from a Hollywood movie. In between I have tried to include a comprehensive list of linguistic references to dogs as they occur in contemporary Anglo-American English. Where possible, I have drawn on a range of sources and tried to confirm origins and meanings.