screw the pooch

Discussion in 'English Only' started by bennymix, Jan 12, 2018.

  1. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    Ontario, Canada. I grew up in US.
    English (American).
    Evolving slang. Just heard of it today, but it's been around for a couple years, famously in a statement of Clarissa Ward, famous journalist at CBS.
    She meant, it appears, 'to greatly mess up a situation'.

    Have other AE speakers heard it? Has it crossed the pond?

    Note that the original expression, referring to a dog, meant something rather different (being lazy, avoiding work, etc.).

    A Romenesko reader writes: “It’s a shame that the CBS-TV cameras didn’t show the look on Bob Schieffer’s ever-dignified face when two of his ‘Face the Nation’ panelists had this exchange on Sunday, Dec. 15 [2013]”:

    Radhika Jones, executive editor, Time magazine: “But isn’t it still the case that it’s extremely hard to know who to support in Syria?”

    Clarissa Ward, CBS News foreign correspondent: “Of course, and we have
    royally screwed the pooch on that front.”

    » Did she really say that on ‘Face the Nation’!? JIMROMENESKO.COM

    History of the expression:

    A Reporter Said "Screw the Pooch" on Face the Nation. Where Does That Phrase Come From?

    We almost certainly owe the popularity of the expression to Tom Wolfe's 1979 book The Right Stuff, which is about the Mercury space program, and its 1983 film adaptation. In the movie, when Gus Grissom (played by Fred Ward) is about to become the second American in space, his fellow astronaut Gordon Cooper (Dennis Quaid) presciently warns him, "Just make sure you don't screw the pooch, Gus."
  2. Cenzontle

    Cenzontle Senior Member

    English, U.S.
    In the dim recesses of my memory, I think I heard it many decades ago.
  3. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    English English
    According to my trusty dictionary of slang, it's been around since the 1960s. It's new to me, though:)
  4. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    Royally screwed - yes; the pooch - no.
  5. You little ripper! Senior Member

    Australian English
    Across the equator we right royally screw or right royally screw up, but I've not heard the 'pooch' version. :)
  6. Trochfa

    Trochfa Senior Member

    English - England
    No pooches in the version/s I know, as well:

    "We are/have been right royally screwed!"
    "They've made a right royal screw up this time!"
  7. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    English - US (Midwest)
    "Screwing the pooch" and "poking the puppy" were terms I heard many times in the Navy, beginning in the mid '80s.
  8. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    Ontario, Canada. I grew up in US.
    English (American).
    Thanks RM1,

    But did they mean 'avoiding work,' 'goofing off' OR messing up, creating a bad situation? The latter is a novelty said to be in Tom Wolfe's 1979 book.
  9. andrewg927 Senior Member

    Denver CO
    English - American
    The term originated in the military during WW2. I heard it from a family member. The crude term was "effing the dog". It means screwing up badly.
  10. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    English - US (Midwest)
    And "dicking the dog." I always heard them used to mean slacking off.
  11. dojibear

    dojibear Senior Member

    Fresno CA
    English - Northeast US
    I've heard it in past years in AE, with the meaning "screwing up badly" (making a big mistake, ruining things, etc.).

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