Dogmatic Logo
The Canine in Conversation
contents page back to last page visited reload this page prior page in site next page in site
portion of a political cartoon showing a hand holding a muzzle labelled 'censor'
figure 1  


muzzle. (noun) A restraint on free movement or expression, as in: had a muzzle put on their high spirits.reference 1

Since many animals are muzzled, it is somewhat risky to view this as solely a canine metaphor. However, in contemporary society, we are not likely to think of the need to muzzle oxen, and certainly not as a measure to contain their high spirits. When used to refer to people, muzzling is often a reference to their potential for doglike enthusiasm or vocal expression.



1. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth., 2000. Accessed Aug 26 2001 from http:// 61/45/M0504500.html.

put a muzzle on it. To restrain from expression.

In the verb form, it is even clearer that what is to be muzzled is the barking. This usage appears to be longstanding. In a 1917 New York Times Magazine political cartoon entitled “Trying to muzzle the wrong dog,” Edwin Marcus depicts the administration as prepared to put a muzzle on the dog named “The Press” while a daschund inscribed with “German Spy System” runs off with the government secrets.reference 2
2. Marcus, Edwin. 1917. Trying to Muzzle the Wrong Dog. New York Times Magazine, Jun 3. Accessed Feb 15 2005 from http:// ~dnb/ gallery/ trying_to_muzzle/ trying_to_muzzle.htm.
About the illustration: An excerpt from the Marcus cartoon. To see the full panel, click on the image in Figure 1. This image is in the public domain because the copyright has expired.
see also: bark like a dog
on a short leash
Last updated: April 15, 2008
by Alec MacLeod 2001-2008  Dogmatic Technologies Oakland Creative Commons unless otherwise expressly stated, all original material of whatever nature created by Alec MacLeod and included in The Canine in Conversation and any related pages, is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Please read the Terms of Use Agreement by Alec MacLeod Dogmatic Technologies