I have tons of dog-eared books on my shelf, with pages dutifully turned down to save my place so I can easily pick up where I left off at a later time. (Of course, dog-earing a Kindle is another matter altogether…!)
|You can see where the phrase got its name! Photo: public domain|
The phrase dates back to the 1650s, which surprised me. I didn’t know the phrase was that long in the tooth, to be honest.
I also learned something else about this phrase. It has a more general meaning: “to make worn or shabby from overuse.”
And while this certainly applies to some of my more well-loved books, I can honestly say I did not know this was used to describe something other than a book.
Yet WiseGeek tells us that “In general, to be dog-eared is to be somewhat worn out from an activity, required some time to rest and recover before being able to take on any new tasks or activities. People can sometimes be described as being dog-eared, especially if they are currently in a state of exhaustion.”
According to Etymology Online, the earliest record of this usage dates back to 1894.
Another reason why I love doing this series – I invariably learn something new as I research each phrase!
|Faraday: This is as close to dog-eared as I get!|
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.