Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thursday Trivia: Dog-eared

Who hasn’t used the phrase “dog-eared”?

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!

Etymology Online
Word Origins
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.


  1. We have never heard of that one..You learn something new everyday:) xx00xx

    Mollie and Alfie

  2. Great research! Mom should get off her you-know-what and research, as well!

    Bo and Mi

  3. When Mommy was little, she used to dog-ear her brother's books which made him very angry. She got a long lecture about how NOT to dog ear books and learnt how to use a book mark instead. Hahaha.

  4. Dad says he has heard of and also used Dog Eared in a non book context. very infurmative.

  5. Mes LOVES these posts! They is always something me has thought about before!

  6. Thanks Nellie! Did you know our mommy has ABANDONED US?!?!?!?! AGAIN???

  7. Cool term I always knew it had to do with doggies through now it makes more sense how it came about. Love your new look it is beyond pawsome.

  8. Thanks again for enlightening us. Faraday, you photo is so super cute. We don't think you represent any of the definitions here. Purrs and hugs from the kitties at The Cat on My Head, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Josette

  9. Well, I feel dog-eared today!
    One more reason I prefer
    real books to the kindle.

  10. You learn something new every day - thanks for sharing!!

  11. Me neither thought that phrase was that old !
    And YES we do use that phrase in Sweden too :)


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