"My dogs are barking"

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GuavaHalf | 17:21 Thu 09th Jun 2005 | Phrases & Sayings
13 Answers
Heard someone say this on train the other day. What on earth was he talking about.

(He had no dogs with him!)


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'Dogs' is a slang word for feet and to say "my dogs are barking" means they are tired and sore from too much walking.
His feet were hurting him, I don't know why and I can't find anything conclusive on the web. The best is that dogs is a common slang term for feet! and they are (jocularly) said to be barking if they ache. Supposedly Hush Puppies are so-called because they quieten those barking dogs.
I should perhaps have pointed out in my earlier answer that 'dogs' came to mean 'feet' from the rhyming slang phrase 'dog's meat'.
Ah, with you now quizmonster, mind you every Londoner I've ever met uses plates for feet rather than dogs except when saying my dogs are barking. Very odd
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Certainly 'plates' for feet is older, Fitzer - indeed, 'plate' was originally used as rhyming slang for 'street'! - having been in use from the mid-19th century. 'Dogs' is a relative newcomer, not having appeared until the early 20th century.
I'm not sure that this is cockney rhyming slang. I heard my Yorkshire born and bred grandmother say this when I was a child.
As I pointed out in the response directly above yours, Ursula, 'dogs' for 'feet' is early 20th century in origin. PG Wodehouse uses it in one of his novels published in the 1920s, for example. Obviously, I do not know how old you are, but I doubt that your childhood predates the 1920s! Besides, The Oxford English Dictionary - the 'bible' of English word-origins - specifically states that it originated in rhyming slang. We'd need to have very good reasons for going against that in my view.
I use this phrase to say that my or someone else's feet are smelly. Don't know where it came from.

Thanks QM  - I'm older than I look and younger than I feel!

My grandmother had never been to London - in fact she never once left Bradford in her entire life. That was my reason for saying I didn't think it was a cockney expression. I heard other Yorkshire people saying it when I visisted there as a child. My mum was evacuated to Bradford during the war as a  child of 4 and yet she picked up the expression in Yorkshire, despite being born within the sound of Bow Bells herself!

One of the key things about rhyming slang, Ursula, is that - despite the fact that it is invariably referred to as "Cockney" rhyming slang - it is widespread across the country and even the world.
Certainly, it seems that it started life in London's East End in the early 19th century, but since then it has constantly been created by people from the other end of the country or even the other end of the world as well. Australians, apparently, sometimes refer to their arms as 'Warwicks', based on the fact that there is a racecourse in Sydney called 'Warwick Farm'.
Thus, it's quite possible that the 'dogs are barking' one started life as "Yorkshire rhyming slang"! Cheers
My dog is barking means 'my phone is ringing' ie dog and bone=phone
Must be a modern term? The actual cockney rhyming slang term for feet was 'plates of meat' and for phone it was 'rag and bone'

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