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what i learned today: wordpandit's vocabulary learning

Why this section?

Dogwatch: A dog’s watch or should we say, watched by dogs!

I discovered the word ‘dogwatch’ while reading a piece somewhere. Intrigued by the portmanteau combining dog and watch, I set about exploring, or rather I should say, sniffing out its meaning. A dogwatch is a nautical term and refers to either of two short watches aboard a ship: from 4-6 pm (first dog-watch) or 6-8 pm (last dog-watch).

In common parlance, the word ‘dogwatch’ has come to stand for a late night shift. So for all those BPO employees slogging out the late night shifts, I have a word: you work the dogwatch, that is the name of your shift.

The term dogwatch is said to be derived from Sirius, the “Dog Star” (yeah, you heard me right: the dog star). The star was said to come into view on the first dog watch (this is contrary to fact, as the time of the rising of Sirius varies with the time of year). There are a number of tales which float around how this word came into existence. You would do well to explore these.

Speaking, thinking and writing of dogs, I just thought why not explore some more words related to the word dog. And surprise, surprise, you would be pretty pleasantly surprised when you come to know the number of words related with man’s best friend (outside of another man, that is). Some of the common ones are listed below:

1. Dog days:
The hot summer days, the ones that make us sweat. To be precise, it refers to the hot period between early July and early September; a period of inactivity. This is another term that is related to Sirius, the dog star and its period of rising. Dog days are the ones where Sirius rose and set with the sun.

2. Dog end:
Dog end refers to the end part of a cigarette that is thrown away. In other words, the butt of the cigarette. Where did this come from? No clue, but if anyone has any idea, please let us know.
This word actually carries a second meaning as well: least interesting part of the something. This meaning probably comes from its reference to the cigarette butt, the part that seemingly does not offer any value to the smoker.

3. Dog-ear:
We have all heard this easy word. . We dog-ear a book when we fold one corner of a page to mark our place. I still remember how I used to be scolded as a kid when I used to dog-ear a book. Those memories still prevent me from dog-earing any book I read.

4. Dog-tired:
To dog-tire oneself is wear oneself out, to be extremely tired. Dog do this to their own selves, by constantly running around all day. Good way of living by the way, the freedom of a dog at times seems far better than the slavery of human routine, doesn’t it?

5. Gun dog:
A gun-dog is one who is trained to bring back dead birds that someone has shot for sport; this is not the prettiest picture to visualize, is it?

6. Dog fight:
It is as bad as or even worse to get into a dog fight than to get into a catfight.
Dog fight is a fiercely disputed contest, where one literally gets into a gruesome fight.
Dog fights are actually organized between dogs at times and people gamble on dogs for entertainment. This is one bad act, isn’t it? How can one be so cruel with dogs?

Well, this brings us to the last word of this article.

7. Dogged:
The easiest of the lot, dogged means ‘being persistent, to keep doing something’, just like a dog who never gives up.

Well, these are some words that come to my mind when I think of dogs? Have you got any interesting ones to share with us?

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