Printable Version
Pronunciation: dawgz-bah-di Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. (British naval slang) Pease pudding, peas boiled in a cloth. 2. (British naval slang) A junior officer, a midshipman. 3. (British slang) A junior person in an office, a gofer, someone given menial tasks in a business or elsewhere.

Notes: Here is a bit of British idiomatic slang. "Idiomatic" because we cannot be guided by the meaning of this word's constituents; we have to memorize a wholly, seemingly unrelated meaning. The plural is dogsbodies; otherwise, no lexical family.

In Play: In the first sense, this word takes its place among the foods with the worst names: "Dick Tate didn't know how much he would miss those on-board meals of plain sea-pie and dogsbody, followed by boiled baby when he retired from the navy." In the more recent sense, we might hear: "His PhD in linguistics landed him a job as a dogsbody on a large fishing boat."

Word History: This word is clearly made up of dog's + body. Dog descends from Old English (OE) docga "guard dog" via Middle English (ME) dogge. By ME it had replaced OE hund, the original Germanic word for "dog". Hund then went on to become hound. No one knows how docga got into the English language. The word dog in other languages, Dutch dog, Danish dogge, and Russian dog, all mean "mastiff". The same sort of mystery is coiled around body. It seems related to Old High German botah "body, corpse, trunk", but this word was replaced by two other words in Modern German, Leib "corpse" and Körper "body". It is probably related to buddy, in the sense of "friend", but that connection leads nowhere, too.

Dr. Goodword,

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