Home Life

Under the Weather and Sick as a Dog

In my quest to spread knowledge in the world, I present the following origins of phrases:

From the Hindu – India’s National Newspaper:
There are many people who hate to travel. Even those who like visiting places may not always be good travelers. Some may get “airsick”, some “carsick” and others “seasick”. The expression “under the weather”, which has been part of the English language for several hundred years, comes from the world of sailing. People who go on a cruise often find that the constant rocking motion of the ship makes them violently sick – they keep vomiting all the time. When the weather gets really rough, the ship rocks and sways so violently that people throw up even more. Passengers who are unable to cope with the swaying motion are often sent below deck.

There are two reasons for this. The first of course is that they will be away from the inclement weather, but perhaps much more important is that the swaying motion of the ship is felt far less below. I understand that on a ship the swaying motion is felt most on the deck; while little or no swaying is felt near the keel, which is near the bottom of the ship. This is one of the explanations given as to the origin of the idiom ‘under the weather’.

Sick as a dog:
There are several expressions of the form sick as a …, that date from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Sick as a dog is actually the oldest of them, recorded from 1705; it is probably no more than an attempt to give force to a strongly worded statement of physical unhappiness. It was attached to a dog, I would guess, because dogs often seem to have been linked to things considered unpleasant or undesirable; down the years they have had an incredibly bad press, linguistically speaking (think of dog tired, dog in the manger, dog’s breakfast, go to the dogs, dog Latin – big dictionaries have long entries about all the ways that dog has been used in a negative sense). Also may have to do with the fact that dogs eat anything until the point they get sick and usually vomit.

Now why did I post these today? You guessed it, I’m sick as a dog.