Words: Going to the dogs, a curmudgeon and a churl


Thanks, Walt! Once again, my new words come from your blog, from a post entitled Going to the dogs
How come I had never heard or read the expression Going to the dogs?

When I first read Walt’s post, I immediately saw that there was more to the title than met the eye. But I really wasn’t sure what it was, since Walt and Ken have a border collie, named Callie and Callie is quite a recurrent theme in their blogs.


So I googled: explain going to the dogs, and clicking the third entry, The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms – Google Books Result yielded page 267 of the AHDI, where going to the dogs said to look up going to pot, which didn’t help me much as it was also a new expression for me. But thence came the light 😉

deteriorate, decline, come to a bad end

OK! There I was! I had the title right;)

Then came the first sentence:

I have to say, I’m becoming a curmudgeon. An old fart. A churl. A grumpy old guy. And I’m not even old. Yet.

Well, I thought, don’t worry about not being old. Yet. Time is working for you 😉


Now the curmudgeon bit was easier to find.
Merriam-Webster online said

a crusty, ill-tempered, and usually old man

which explained Walt’s comment about not being old, yet.
I had a hunch about the meaning of churl, because I knew the word churlish, but checked with Merriam-Webster and obviously, given the context, it couldn’t be a medieval peasant, but

a rude ill-bred person

All that sleuthing work, just for the blog title and the first sentence? But this is what I love about learning a language. You are never done!
Now you want to go read that post, because besides having my new words, it is really enjoyable.

8 thoughts on “Words: Going to the dogs, a curmudgeon and a churl

  1. Another the expression ” Go to the mattresses”

    There’s a funny play on this phrase in the movie “You’ve Got Mail”. Written by Nora Ephron , the phrase is used by a shark-like businessman (Tom Hanks) to his online mysterious friend (Meg Ryan). He (Joe) must explained it to her (Kathleen) —

    KATHLEEN: My business is in trouble. My mother would have something wise to say.
    JOE: I’m a brilliant businessman. It’s what I do best. What’s your business?

    KATHLEEN: No specifics, remember?

    JOE: Minus specifics, it’s hard to help. Except to say, go to the mattresses.
    KATHLEEN: What?

    JOE: It’s from The Godfather. It means you have to go to war.
    KATHLEEN: The Godfather? What is it with men and The Godfather?

    JOE: The Godfather is the I Ching. The Godfather is the sum of all wisdom. The Godfather is the answer to any question. What should I pack for my summer vacation? “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.” What day of the week is it? “Maunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday.” And the answer to your question is “Go to the mattresses.”
    You’re at war. “It’s not personal, it’s business. It’s not personal it’s business.” Recite that to yourself every time you feel you’re losing your nerve. I know you worry about being brave, this is your chance. Fight. Fight to the death.

    When Kathleen mentioned that phrase to her boyfriend, he knew right away what it meant: “Of course, it’s from The Godfather”.

  2. Imagine my surprise when I clicked on Blogging in Paris and saw cute photos of my own dog! I’m glad you enjoyed all the word play, claude. I know I’ll never be done learning French, I’m not even sure I’ll get half way!

  3. Thank you for pointing wcs’blog. That page was hilarious. Those are new words for me too. I am so glad you did the homework, Claude. I was always at a loss to describe my British ex. Now I see him clearly.Poor old man…but interesting nevertheless!
    From older posts,in VIEUX C’EST MIEUX ,I learned “chamboule”:bouleverser et “pinaille”: argoter sur des vétilles. Fun! Fun1 Fun!

  4. Idioms — the most challenging aspects of language learning — including for many native speakers. You certainly demonstrate an excellent way in which to keep introducing ourselves to new brain-stimulating activities. Love the dog pic.

  5. Yes, idioms are very interesting aren’t they? I love learning new ones in French even though my ‘everyday’ language is far from fluent.
    It’s so rewarding when you hear someone use an expression you have learned recently.
    My present favourite is “Il n’est pas dans son assiette”.

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