Here’s a question for our friends over the pond: is there any truth to the rumor that the British are fond of adding “-o” to the end of a word?
I ask because there is no definitive origin to today’s word. The closest we can come is a definition from Oxford, stating that it is “of obscure origin, apparently from dog + -o.”
I ran into many sites that claimed this was due to the British penchant for adding “-o” to the end of a word, often using the word “boyo” to prove their point.
So what say you? Truth or exaggeration?
Of all the many things I read about the origin of the phrase “lying doggo,” the most interesting was an obscure reference by author William Safire in his book, Watching My Language: Adventures in the Word Trade.
In it, Safire references another book and notes its glossary entry as stating that “doggo” meant “still” or “quiet”… and that it was of East Indian derivation.
|Lying doggo. Photo: andrewasmith, Creative Commons|
I have found absolutely nothing to back this up, and our go-to sources don’t say a word about this, so we find it highly suspect. Interesting, yet suspect!
There is also some debate on what “lying doggo” actually means. Some say it simply means to lay still, like a dog in hiding whereas others feel it has more complexity, suggesting that it conveys more of an impressions of “hanging back, “ or “staying out of the fray.”
|Um, #DoggoFAIL? Photo: komehachi888, Creative Commons|
The one thing we can tell you with absolute certainty is that it first appeared in a published work in 1899:
"I wud lie most powerful doggo whin I heard a shot," wrote British novelist and poet Rudyard Kipling.
If we heard a shot, we would, too, sir.
The Works of Rudyard Kipling: Kim, Rudyard Kipling, page 304. Doubleday & McClure, 1899.
New York Times
The Oxford Dictionaries