Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thursday Trivia: Lying Doggo

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.
Word Detective 
New York Times
The Oxford Dictionaries


  1. Yikes I don't think we add O to everything. We'd have said that was the Italians. We understood it to mean lying still but where it comes from who knows. Have a tremendous Thursday.
    Best wishes Molly

  2. will we get in trubull heer with all R pup palz if we say it meens de dawg iz knot tellin de trooth

    they haza bad habit oh that...lyin....leest de ones that lived round TT did !!! all ways blamin de cat
    N sayin sew .....

  3. I lived in London for over a year and I never noticed anything.

  4. Not familiar with the term at all. Maybe 'cause it has the word "dog" in it. Woofies don't interest any of us too much! Purrs and paw-pats, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

  5. We've never heard that word/phrase before! But we aren't British either… Sorry we're of no help!

  6. Apart from the welsh supposedly saying boyo, I have never heard the "o" put on the end of dog or any other words.
    When we have been in Wales I can't say I have heard boyo used often either.

  7. Fank youz for coming to my pawty and making my birthday so special. Wez away'z the weekend'z
    so catch up'z wiff you Monday'z xxxxxx

    Load'z of Hug'z

    Mollie and Alfie

  8. We agree entirely with Flynn! Except we've never been to Wales…

    The Chans

  9. I'm on this side of the pond so I don't have much to add …but will tune in for the results of your poll.

    Ruby (and Angel Pip)

  10. Time to consult our friend, Austin-o!
    ; )

  11. I'm a British dog, born there, can howl with an English accent but I know nothing about howl-o :)


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