pig's breakfast / dog's breakfast / dog's dinner

Discuss word origins and meanings.
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pig's breakfast / dog's breakfast / dog's dinner

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:28 am

aaa
<2010 “‘You’ll want your shoes shined,’ she told him. ‘The hotel valet’s made a pig’s breakfast of it, and no master of mine will go about in dirty shoes.”—Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn, page 29> [[colonial India, 1889]]
With my astute insight into this sort of thing, I’m guessing that a pig’s breakfast is something attractive or appetizing; something arranged in an orderly manner. And that the expression is very popular in the U.S.

PIG’S BREAKFAST [1933] (also dog’s breakfast [1915] / dog’s dinner [1957] – all three forms are still in use and are mainly British) noun colloquial: Something unattractive, unappetizing, distasteful; a mess, a muddle.

LIKE A (or THE) DOG’S DINNER (also done up like a dog’s dinner, got up . . .) Of dress, etc. [1930s and still in use]: Ostentatious, flashy, or over-elaborate; (also) in an ostentatiously smart or flashy manner; dressed in the height of chic and fashion. [[Note: It’s hard to see any connection between this definition and dog food.]]

(Oxford English Dictionary and Cassell’s Dictionary or Slang)
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I don’t know. I’ve seen some dog’s breakfasts/dinners that were pretty tempting. And I might even go for a pig’s breakfast in a pinch. However, “pig’s dinners” are completely out of the question.

Well, alas and alack, I notice that my above astute guess for pig’s breakfast was close, but no cigar! (>:)
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The following quotes are from the Oxford English Dictionary and archived sources:
<1947 “Bits of charred wood, charcoal, old leaves and wood ash floated there in the midst of an uninviting looking white scum. It looked like poor porridge, a pig's breakfast to us.”—Owl Pen by K. M. Wells, xvi. page 95>

<1959 “He can't make head or tail of it. . . It's a complete dog's breakfast.”—The Times (London), 29 April, page 10/4>

<1988 “. . . that would mean abandoning the sale altogether. Given the pig's breakfast we have been presented with so far, we can see merit in that.”—Glasgow Herald (Scotland), 28 July>

<1998 “Though he didn't mind giving Marcus the odd can of Coke, he wasn't about to embroil himself in the sorry dog's dinner that was Marcus's life.”—About a Boy (1999) by N. Hornby, xvi. page 114>

<2003 “What are you all dressed up like a dog's dinner for?”—Turn again Home by C. Birch, xxix. Page 313>

<2004 “Europe usually made a pig's breakfast of the American ideas it adopted, good or bad.”—The National Post (Nexis), (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 5 May, page a19>

<2008 “What his bizarre and brusque reaction told those in the know . . . is exactly how unhappy Schuster is at the total pigs breakfast which his employers have made of the summer.”—The Mail on Sunday (London), 31 August>

<2013 “The rest of Washtenaw County restaurants are basically pig's breakfast’ type of greasy spoons.”—AnnArbor.com, 22 February>
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Ken G – April 22, 2013
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Re: pig's breakfast / dog's breakfast / dog's dinner

Post by Wizard of Oz » Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:43 am

.. which of course Ken is totally different to being the cat's pyjamas ..

WoZ with whiskers
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Signature: "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

Re: pig's breakfast / dog's breakfast / dog's dinner

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:43 am

Though a rat's nest ( http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/mares-nest.html ) seems to have been synonymous. The question of whether mare's nest may legitimately be used the same way would probably stir up a hornet's nest amongst prescriptivists and descriptivists.
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Re: pig's breakfast / dog's breakfast / dog's dinner

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:18 pm

aaa
And lest we forget there is our very own homegrown mare’s nest posting.
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Ken – April 23, 2013
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Re: pig's breakfast / dog's breakfast / dog's dinner

Post by tony h » Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:30 pm

I am sure there is a lot to comment on but this particular item topped the list.
also done up like a dog’s dinner, got up
for me this is a female, not in her prime, over made-up and stylish elements put together with no sense of style.
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Signature: tony

With the right context almost anything can sound appropriate.

Re: pig's breakfast / dog's breakfast / dog's dinner

Post by trolley » Wed Apr 24, 2013 1:44 am

That's what my Dad would call "mutton dressed as lamb."
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Re: pig's breakfast / dog's breakfast / dog's dinner

Post by Erik_Kowal » Wed Apr 24, 2013 9:42 am

tony h wrote:
also done up like a dog’s dinner, got up
for me this is a female, not in her prime, over made-up and stylish elements put together with no sense of style.
Mrs Thatcher was a pioneer in so many areas.
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End of topic.
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