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plaster dog head from Doggie Diner
figure 1  


dog's dinner. One's finest clothing; Sunday best.

Eric Partridge is succinct in his description: “Done up like a dog's dinner means all dressed up.”reference 1

Alternatively, it seems to be synonymous with dog's breakfast, that is, a mess.reference 2 Despite the well-deserved deference that is typically paid to Partridge in the lexicographic community, it is my guess that the meaning he ascribes to this phrase is out-of-date. Search as I might, I could not find a recent instance of this usage in a U.S. source.


1. Partridge, Eric, and Paul Beale, ed. 1992. A Dictionary of Catch Phrases, American and British, from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day. Rev. and updated ed. New York: Scarborough House.

2. Urban Dictionary.Com. Tucows, Inc., Feb 22 2005. Accessed Feb 22 2005 from
About the illustration: Oops, it's “dinner,” not “diner!” This is the image of the San Francisco fast food joint, Doggie Diner, now as famous as it is extinct. You can see, if you look closely, that this dog is dressed in a snazzy bow tie. Collage by the author.
see also: put on the dog
cf: dog's breakfast; dogmeat
Last updated: February 16, 2008
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