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who let the dogs out

Discussion in 'English Only' started by sqlines, Sep 10, 2006.

  1. sqlines Senior Member

    Dutch
    Hi,

    Could someone tell me what this expression really means by giving examples when it can be used.

    Thanks.

    Sqlines
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2012
  2. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    I don't believe it "means" anything in terms of conversation. It's a line from a (really bad) song. I can't imagine where one would ever use this phrase in normal conversation.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2012
  3. renegade angel Senior Member

    English, Australia
    The term "dog" refers to ugly or trashy women. So, in saying who let the dogs out they're probably commenting on the attractiveness of the women around.

    And yes, its a really annoying song...
     
  4. SPQR Senior Member

    US
    American English
    As has been stated previously by Dimcl, there is no true "meaning" like an idiomatic phrase, but its use has been broadened beyond just asking a simple question. In common parlance the figurative meaning is "something has happed that might lead to an aggressive response" (bad definition, but it's the best I can do now)

    In common parlance it is from a song (bad, as was mentioned) - even used as comic relief in the move Men in Black II. But because of the "beat" of the song and the "rhythm" of the sentence it has been used as a "cheer" for some sports teams. The "dogs" would be the players and because it might mean that the players are "tough", "strong", as the players run onto the field they play the song to intimidate the other team.

    The "figurative" phrase which is similar is "release the dogs of war" - which is very sinister. Check the Google here for more info.
     
  5. renegade angel Senior Member

    English, Australia
    In general the term is used in a derogatory fashion to describe the people around you or what might be going on with those people around you.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2012
  6. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    To me this is a simple, literal question. Is there any special meaning in "who left the gate open?"

    The hidden meanings of song lyrics is a subject I would study by finding lyrics sites and music-fan forums. I'm not saying the question shouldn't be raised here-- just that you'll have better luck asking people involved in pop music, who spend their spare time in chat groups about their favorite groups.
    .
     
  7. renegade angel Senior Member

    English, Australia

    I thought the term "dog" referring to unattractive women was universal?

    But yeh, maybe I just interpret it that way because of the film clip for that song, which implied there were lots of trashy women around.
     
  8. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    There's also a nasty double-entendre involved in "sharpen my pencil," but it doesn't belong in a post about that phrase unless there's a clear indication that the poster is asking about it.

    I'm not rebuking people that talked about the secondary meaning of "dogs," but nobody mentioned the simple, literal meaning of the phrase. That's pretty much all I was pointing out.
    .
     
  9. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    However, "dog" meaning a man who sleeps around is also common (well - I believe so?) in AE so it could potentially mean that couldn't it? (I don't know the context of the song or whether that makes it clear).
     
  10. renegade angel Senior Member

    English, Australia
    Does AE mean Australian English?? I've never really heard dog used in that way but I'm sure it could be.

    The film clip for the song was a bunch of black american guys singing "who let the dogs out" and then barking alot, with lots of women surrounding them. So... interpret it from there :p
     
  11. jimreilly Senior Member

    Minneapolis
    American English
    Dear Renegade Angel, "AE" is American English as distinct from "BE", which is British English.

    I read the lyrics to the whole song, which I had heard many times without paying attention, but I'm afraid I'm too old and not culturally attuned enough to the pop music world, so the reading didn't help much. It seemed that at times the dogs were perhaps men (with bones, no less) and at times they might be women surrounding those men. But I could be wrong.

    When dogs are let out when they're not supposed to be, after all, they sometimes find each other and then there are puppies. If the owner of the dogs is unhappy about that, the appropriate question could be "Who let the dogs out?".
     
  12. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    AE - standard abbreviation for American English. Australian English is AuE - but actually (and you may not like this!!) you guys are usually lumped under BE (British English) because they are very similar.

    Well - I don't remember the video to that song well, but it seems to me that the men themselves were being "dogs" by treating the women that way, so I think that we need someone whose into that music or song to know whether it is the men or the women (or both) who are the dogs.

    However, the meaning of "dog" is different depending on which sex is being denoted. Sexist language, isn't it?
     
  13. sqlines Senior Member

    Dutch
    Thanks for the many responses.
    I have looked for the interpretation in the figurative sense and it seems to me that the following comes close to it.
    "Who started the mess that we are now in".

    Sqlines
     
  14. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Excellent, sqlines, and concise-- and it makes me feel vindicated in my earlier comment about gates and keeping them shut.
    .
     
  15. pitchitnow New Member

    English
    We were re-watching Men in Black 2, and they use this song in a bit with the dog-alien. So for the fun of it we looked up what comments there were. It is hilarious. Guys, get a grip! These are barbarians, not literary salon figures. An orgy is in question and they are referring to sexual positions. That is primarily what these types of folks think and sing about--sex. Their countryman, Bob Marley, would have been disgusted.
     
  16. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    Perhaps someone should have mentioned all that to the producers of Rugrats in Paris: The Movie before they featured the song in their film for 2½-year olds:rolleyes:
     
  17. pitchitnow New Member

    English
    Ok, it's all about doggies. :)
     
  18. perpend Senior Member

    American English
    I sort of skimmed the thread, but there's a term in Ebonics: dawg

    Which means sort of like a home boy, homey, etc.

    I'd always thought that was meant in the song being talked about here, but I haven't read the lyrics. I'm just sayin'. :)
     
  19. gred64 New Member

    English
    From the 2000 hit single "Who Let the Dogs Out" by the Baha Men, the term "who let the dogs out?" is referring to what women say when men at parties or clubs catcall them or try desperately to get their attention.
    In context:
    -multiple men- "hey baby!" "hey cutie, let's dance!" "you wanna come home with me?"
    -woman- "I've got hit on by three guys so far and we just got here. Who let the dogs out?"

    The term "dog" in today's generation can mean ugly/trashy women, but back when the term was even popular, it meant when there were a bunch of obnoxious, horny guys at a party. Guys liked to be referred to as "dogs," and they started calling their buddies "dog." Only now, we spell it "dawg."
     
  20. gred64 New Member

    English
    This is absolutely true! "Dog" back then was used by women to refer to men who only went to parties to hit on girls. Guys liked being known as lady killers, so they turned the negative word into something they called each other, only now it's spelled "dawg."
     
  21. gred64 New Member

    English
    And the song was famous AFTER the Rugrats in Paris movie came out -- the movie was pretty much the only reason the song was even recognized in America (in its peak, it was only #40 on the top #100 songs of its time). It is ironic, though, that they chose that song to play. Because #1, Spike it obviously a dog who gets out (so "who let the dogs out" in the literal sense) but then #2, he is chasing a GIRL dog ("who let the dogs out" in the figurative sense). It was meant to be funny to adults who understood the phrase "dog," so there was a reason Spike was CHASING Fifi (like a guy at a party). Kids, however, hear "who let the dogs out?" in an upbeat song and see a puppy running out the door. No children were scarred in the making of that movie, to any of you that think 3 year-olds can understand adult jokes when they have trouble telling between a rat and mouse. If you let your child watch this movie, they will not start asking you about sex, I assure you.
     

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