"My dogs are killing me" and "Hush Puppies"

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"My dogs are killing me" and "Hush Puppies"

Post by JANE DOErell » Wed Apr 28, 2010 4:26 pm

The phrase "My dogs are killing me" is reported to mean one's feet hurt.

So I began to muse: did the trade name for shoes "Hush Puppies" derive in any way from "My dogs are killing me"?
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Re: "My dogs are killing me" and "Hush Puppies"

Post by Bobinwales » Wed Apr 28, 2010 4:53 pm

Good question, a couple of hours research there I dare say.

My father always used to say "My dogs are barking". Naturally, so do I.
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Re: "My dogs are killing me" and "Hush Puppies"

Post by trolley » Wed Apr 28, 2010 4:59 pm

Seems very likely. If you believe "Wiki" there is a direct connection. They just discussed "my dogs are killing me" on The Phrase Finder a few days ago.....

posted by Victoria S Dennis on April 23, 2010 at 21:59:

"Dogs" for "feet" is rhyming slang: the underlying phrase is "dogs' meat", which ryhymes with "feet". The dropping of the second word, making the slang phrase incomprehensible to anyone who doesn't know the whole phrase, is a standard feature of British rhyming slang. (VSD)
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Re: "My dogs are killing me" and "Hush Puppies"

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Fri Apr 30, 2010 12:20 am

A true Cockney is usually regarded as somebody who was born within the sound of Bow Bells, so perhaps it should be Cockney Chiming Slang.

Boxers, of course, would sniff at being associated with footwear.
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Re: "My dogs are killing me" and "Hush Puppies"

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri Apr 30, 2010 6:43 am

Edwin F Ashworth wrote:A true Cockney is usually regarded as somebody who was born within the sound of Bow Bells, so perhaps it should be Cockney Chiming Slang.
The clanguage of the capital?
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Re: "My dogs are killing me" and "Hush Puppies"

Post by Bobinwales » Fri Apr 30, 2010 10:01 am

I'm not at all convinced about dogs meat. Surely in Cockney slang feet are 'plates', plates of meat.
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Re: "My dogs are killing me" and "Hush Puppies"

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Fri Apr 30, 2010 4:48 pm

Perhaps the dogs in question were dishhounds.
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Re: "My dogs are killing me" and "Hush Puppies"

Post by trolley » Fri Apr 30, 2010 7:12 pm

I was thinking the same thing, Bob. I always thought it was American military slang. In another discussion, someone pointed out that "dogs" isn't used in England to mean feet. That would seem to take a little stuffing out of the rhyming slang theory.
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Re: "My dogs are killing me" and "Hush Puppies"

Post by Bobinwales » Fri Apr 30, 2010 7:59 pm

trolley wrote:I always thought it was American military slang.
As in "dog soldier"?
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Re: "My dogs are killing me" and "Hush Puppies"

Post by trolley » Fri Apr 30, 2010 8:34 pm

I'd never even thought about a possible dog soldier/ foot soldier connection. I just remember watching a lot of war movies, as a kid, and often hearing soldiers complaining about their "dogs". "My dogs are killin' me, my dogs are barking, we marched our damned dogs off". I was never 100% sure whether they were talking about thier feet or their boots.
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Re: "My dogs are killing me" and "Hush Puppies"

Post by Bobinwales » Fri Apr 30, 2010 11:02 pm

This is a job for Superken.
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Re: "My dogs are killing me" and "Hush Puppies"

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Tue May 04, 2010 10:28 am

trolley stated "... I was never 100% sure whether they were talking about their feet or their boots."
Boots are traditionally daisies (daisy roots) in CRS.

As is the case with all registers, CRS evolves constantly, and the self-appointed style guides can claim no more authority than those trying to influence mainstream English usage. At http://www.cockneyrhymingslang.co.uk/ one can vote on the merits and acceptability or otherwise of old/new examples of CRS. Both novel and traditional examples are by no means limited to a one expression - one CRS rendering rule.
I've read novels where one of the characters invents (pseudo-) CRS on the hoof, sometimes amusingly. Scottish Rhyming Slang is on the increase, which increases the confusion, as Scottish pronunciation is usually quite different (corned beef to rhyme with deaf, for example. Australian RS is apparently well known too. Irish RS would probably be beyond the Chisholm. Sorry, shark.
One thing that does confuse me is why the above website includes kettle as CRS rather than general slang for watch - I've been trying to find out if there is a CRS connection since hearing Arfur Daly use it on Minder many years ago.
Perhaps it's a variant on the usual rule: kettle and hob.........watch and fob
Another, two-stage-removed variant seems to be Kermit for road (....frog....toad....).
Using the traditional rules of interpretation, one would expect fob and dog, say.
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Re: "My dogs are killing me" and "Hush Puppies"

Post by guc » Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:59 pm

It was Pearl Bailey's favorite intermission line. As she remove her shoes while sittin' on a stool, she sigh, L My Dogs is killin' me!"
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Re: "My dogs are killing me" and "Hush Puppies"

Post by Phil White » Sun Apr 19, 2015 9:55 pm

As a very belated answer to Jane's original question, this is from the Hush Puppies website:
The origins of the Hush Puppies name are decidedly low-tech. A company sales manager sat with a friend for a dinner of catfish and deep fried corn fritters called “hush puppys.” Intrigued by the name, the salesman discovered that farmers also used these hush puppys to quiet barking dogs. At the time, tired feet were known as “barking dogs” and the salesman reasoned that his soft, lightweight comfortable shoes could quiet them, too. The rest is history.
As far as the origin of "dogs" as a slang term for feet is concerned, there appear to be two competing theories.
  • The OED explicitly states that it derives from rhyming slang "dogs' meat". But as plenty of people have pointed out, the normal rhyming slang for feet is "plates".
  • Most other attempts to explain the origin simply refer to jazz slang from around the 1920s
Google ngram viewer does not show anything earlier than the mid-20th century, but the phrase seems reasonably common in the UK and the US. It is rare for rhyming slang to make the trip across the Atlantic, and the mid-20th century appearance of the term in the UK would coincide with greater exposure to US phrases during and after the war.

Having said that, it is relatively rare for the OED to stick their necks out without good reason.

It may be one of those things that we just have to put down as "origin unknown".

Sadly, any peculiar phrase whose origins are unknown usually spawn a number of competing theories, which usually fall into one of three categories.
  1. The phrase has some extremely obscure nautical origin
  2. The phrase derives from rhyming slang
  3. The phrase derives from jazz slang
Edit: There is an ancient post here that gives Partridge's explanation. He also dates it in the 20th century and says that it came from the US to the UK.
Last edited by Phil White on Sun Apr 19, 2015 10:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Added reference to old topic
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Non sum felix lepus

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