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My Doggy Ate My Essay
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Darren Sardelli is a humorous poet who knows how to get kids excited about poetry. He’s been invited to speak at over 800 schools and libraries, nationwide, where he’s transformed reluctant readers and writers into poetry fanatics. Growing up, Darren had very little interest in...
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Where Did The Phrase “The Dog Ate My Homework” Come From?
Dogs are known as man’s best friend. Dogs keep us safe, are hard workers … and can provide a handy excuse in a pinch. Maybe that’s why versions of the classic expression the dog ate my homework have been around for hundreds of years.
Today, the dog ate my homework is used as a stock example of the kind of silly excuses schoolchildren give for why their work isn’t finished. Very rarely do people say, “the dog ate my homework” and expect it to be taken literally; they use the expression as an example of a typically flimsy excuse.
So where did the phrase come from?
Forrest Wickman, a writer for Slate , describes the legend of the 6th-century Saint Ciarán of Clonmacnoise as the alleged first recorded “the dog ate my homework” story. According to the tale, Saint Ciarán had a tame young fox that would take his writings to his master for him. One day, the fox grew up and decided to eat the leather strap binding the writings together instead. Still, this tale is more Garden-of-Eden parable and less terrible schoolchild excuse.
The notion that dogs will eat just about anything, including paper, turns up in lots of stories over the centuries. An example comes from The Humors of Whist , published in 1808 in Sporting Magazine . In the story, the players are sitting around playing cards when one of them remarks that their companion would have lost the game had the dog not eaten the losing card. Good boy.
Some attribute the creation of the dog ate my homework to a joke that was going around at the beginning of the 20th century. In a tale found as far back as an 1894 memoir by Anglican priest Samuel Reynolds Hole, a preacher gives a shortened version of a sermon because a dog got into his study and ate some of the pages he had written. However, the clerk loved it because they had been wanting the preacher to shorten his sermons for years.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary , the first example of the dog ate my homework excuse in print can be found in a speech given by retiring headmaster James Bewsher in 1929 and published in the Manchester Guardian : “It is a long time since I have had the excuse about the dog tearing up the arithmetic homework.” The way this comment is phrased suggests that the whole dog ate my homework story had been around for some time before it was put in print.
When was the word homework created?
But in order for a dog to eat homework specifically, homework had to be invented (oh, and how we wish it hadn’t been). True, the word homework , as in what we call today housework , appears as early as 1653. But homework , as in school exercises to be done at home, isn’t found until 1852. Once we had homework , it was only a matter of time before the dog was accused of eating it.
How we use this phrase now
No matter the origin, sometime in the 1950s, the expression became set as the dog ate my homework . This inspired any number of riffs on the theme, like my cow ate my homework or my brother ate my homework . In the 1960s, the dog ate my homework continued to gain popularity. The expression popped up a couple times in politics over the years, like when President Reagan said to reporters in 1988, “I had hoped that we had marked the end of the ‘dog-ate-my-homework’ era of Congressional budgetry … but it was not to be.”
It seems unlikely that the dog ate my homework was ever used consistently or frequently by actual schoolchildren. In fact, it’s the unlikeliness of the story that makes it so funny and absurd as a joke. Instead, teachers and authority figures appear to have cited the dog ate my homework many times over the years as such a bad excuse they can’t believe students are really using it.
In the 21st century, students don’t spend as much time working with physical pen and paper as they once did. That may contribute to the decline in the use of the phrase. So, maybe soon we’ll see a new equally absurd phrase pop up. Come on Zoomers, you’ve got this.
WATCH: What's A Unique Homework Routine That Works?
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My Dog Ate My Homework
96 pages, Hardcover
First published January 1, 1996
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My Dog Ate My Homework
Buy the book The Biggest Burp Ever
My dog ate my homework. That mischievous pup got hold of my homework and gobbled it up.
My dog ate my homework. It’s gonna be late. I guess that the teacher will just have to wait.
My dog ate my homework. He swallowed it whole. I shouldn’t have mixed it with food in his bowl.
— Kenn Nesbitt
Copyright © 2014. All Rights Reserved.
Reading Level: Grade 1
Topics: Animal Poems , School Poems
Poetic Techniques: Irony , Narrative Poems
From the book The Biggest Burp Ever
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Fun fact: John Steinbeck’s dog ate the first draft of Of Mice and Men .
“The dog ate my homework” is, perhaps, the oldest excuse in the book. But it really happened to John Steinbeck! His dog, Toby, apparently ate half of the first manuscript of Of Mice and Men .
On this very day, May 27, 1936, he wrote :
Minor tragedy stalked. My setter pup, left alone one night, made confetti of about half of my manuscript book. Two months work to do over again. It set me back. There was no other draft. I was pretty mad, but the poor little fellow may have been acting critically. I didn’t want to ruin a good dog for a manuscript I’m not sure is good at all. He only got an ordinary spanking … I’m not sure Toby didn’t know what he was doing when he ate the first draft. I have promoted Toby-dog to be a lieutenant-colonel in charge of literature.
Dog lover that he was, at least he was in good humor about it! (Maybe the moral here is: if your first draft gets destroyed, don’t terrier self up about it!)
As for Toby, maybe he really was trying to tell his owner that the first draft was ruff and he didn’t want Steinbeck to setter for it. Or he was hounding him to finish the thing, already! Maybe he just didn’t like that Lennie accidentally killed that innocent dog in the book.
Or maybe Toby somehow knew that later in life, John Steinbeck would go on to write a travelogue with his other dog, a poodle named Charley.
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Origin of "my dog ate my homework"?
Is there a specifc incident or origin story for the common joke/comedic phrase "my dog ate my homework"? I always wondered whether there was a student who became notorious for not turning in their homework and using that excuse, or whether someone somewhere used it as a flimsy excuse and everyone thought it was funny, or any other reason...
If no one can find anything, do we at least know how long it's been around as a saying?
Also, how often does it turn out to be true? Has anyone here who owned a dog during childhood ever actually had that happen to them?
- 2 Yes, one of our dogs chews lots of things if they are left lying about. It is completely plausible. I’d bet it originated in truth about the same time as people started letting dogs live inside the home and homework was being done on paper. – Jim Mar 6, 2019 at 2:03
- Here is a piece that recounts a similar joke as early as 1905: slate.com/human-interest/2012/10/… . However, I do not have any evidence that this was the earliest occurrence. – Benjamin Kuykendall Mar 6, 2019 at 2:04
- It's been around for as long as there have been dogs and homework. – Hot Licks Mar 6, 2019 at 2:05
- That article would make a pretty good answer. – DJClayworth Mar 6, 2019 at 4:13
The phrase was actually built up through a series of sentences like, ' My dog chewed it up ' and ' My cat chewed it up and I had no time to do it over. '
These sentences were first used in the 1965 comic novel, Up the Down Staircase.
But it mainly became popular in 1974 when a book was written with the title, ' The Cat Ate My Gym. ' Many works had the same reference and only then did it become a classic punch.
It's funny, anyway.
- 1 1965 may be the origin of the two precise sentences you quote, but it is definitely not the origin of the trope, which is attested in written sources from the beginning of the 20th century. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 6, 2019 at 16:15
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Why Do We Say “The Dog Ate My Homework”?
The history of the delinquent schoolchild’s favorite excuse..
Did this sad Lab eat your homework?
Viacom announced on Monday that Mitt Romney had declined to appear on Nickelodeon’s Kids Pick the President special this year, citing time constraints. President Obama’s camp pounced on Romney’s decision, saying, “Kids demand details … ‘The dog ate my homework’ just doesn’t cut it when you’re running for president. ” When did “my dog ate my homework” become known as schoolchildren’s favorite excuse?
The 1970s. Delinquent schoolchildren and adults have been blaming their shortcomings on their pets for more than a century, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that “my dog ate my homework” came to be considered the No. 1 likely story. One of the first sad sacks who was said to blame his dog for his own ill-preparedness was a priest. In this anecdote, which appeared as early as 1905, a clergyman pulls his clerk aside after a service to ask him whether his sermon seemed long enough. The clerk assures him that it was very nice, “just the right length,” and the priest is relieved. “I am very glad to hear you say that,” he says, “because just before I started to come here my dog got hold of my sermon and ate some of the leaves .” The story was repeated again and again . The first citation of the excuse in the Oxford English Dictionary is a 1929 article from the Manchester Guardian , which reads, “It is a long time since I have had the excuse about the dog tearing up the arithmetic homework.” In Bel Kaufman’s best-selling 1965 novel Up the Down Staircase , a list of students’ excuses for not having their homework includes “ My dog went on my homework ” and “ My dog chewed it up .” Even in 1965, however, it was still just another excuse.
“My dog ate my homework” became known as the quintessential far-fetched excuse in the next decade, when the phrase was used over and over . In a 1976 account of the Watergate tapes, E.C. Kennedy describes listening to President Nixon “ working on the greatest American excuse since the dog ate my homework .” A 1977 article from Alaska’s Daily News-Miner describes the difficulty students faced in coming up with a new excuse since “ ‘My dog ate my term paper’ is no longer acceptable .”
The excuse was alluded to more and more throughout the 1980s. A 1982 Time magazine column on excuses suggested that “The dog ate my homework is a favorite with schoolchildren,” while a 1987 New York Times column about how students were starting to blame malfunctioning computers and printers quoted one teacher as saying she recently received “ a note from a student’s mother saying the dog ate his homework .” Even the president picked up on the trend: When Congress pushed spending approval to the last minute in 1988, Ronald Reagan complained to reporters, “ I had hoped that we had marked the end of the ‘dog-ate-my-homework’ era of Congressional budgetry … but it was not to be .” It was all over television, with references to the excuse on shows like The Simpsons and Full House . By 1989, the narrator of Saved by the Bell theme was singing, “ And the dog ate all my homework last night .”
The phrase continued to grow more popular. Between 1990 and 2000, the New York Times wrote articles with headlines such as “ Beyond ‘Dog Ate My Homework’ ” and “ Homework Help Sites (Or, the Dog Ate My U.R.L.) ,” while The New Yorker described one criminal’s accounts of his wrongdoings as having “a decided my-dog-ate-my-homework quality.” Children’s books tried to capitalize on the trend with titles like A Dinosaur Ate My Homework , Aliens Ate My Homework , Godzilla Ate My Homework , and My Teacher Ate My Homework , daring to use the term to promote reading and education. Such titles have continued into the 2000s, but in recent years the phrase seems to finally be losing steam .
Bonus Explainer: An Obama spokesperson also said, “ It’s no surprise Romney decided to play hookey .” Why do we call cutting school “playing hookey”? To play hookey began as an Americanism in the 19 th century. The earliest known citation comes from 1848, from John Russell Bartlett’s Dictionary of Americanisms , where it was said to mean “to play truant” and noted to be “ a term used among schoolboys, chiefly in the State of New York .” Word historians usually suggest that it’s from to hook it meaning to run away , a term as old as the Revolutionary War. However, others have proposed that it might derive from the Dutch expression hoekje spelen , the Dutch expression for “hide and seek”—especially since playing hooky emerged in New York during a time when it had a larger Dutch population.
Got a question about today’s news? Ask the Explainer .
Explainer thanks Barry Popik, Jesse Sheidlower of the Oxford English Dictionary, and Ben Zimmer of the Visual Thesaurus and Vocabulary.com .
My Doggy Ate My Homework By Dave Crawley “My doggy ate my homework. He chewed it up,” I said. But when I offered my excuse My teacher shook her head. I saw this wasn’t going well. I didn’t want to fail. Before she had a chance to talk, I added to the tale: “Before he ate, he took my work And tossed it in a pot. He simmered it with succotash
My Doggy Ate My Essay By Darren Sardelli My doggy ate my essay. He picked up all my mail. He cleaned my dirty closet and dusted with his tail. He straightened out my posters and swept my wooden floor. My parents almost fainted when he fixed my bedroom door. I did not try to stop him. He made my windows shine. My room looked like a palace,
Forrest Wickman, a writer for Slate, describes the legend of the 6th-century Saint Ciarán of Clonmacnoise as the alleged first recorded “the dog ate my homework” story. According to the tale, Saint Ciarán had a tame young fox that would take his writings to his master for him.
My Dog Ate My Homework Bruce Lansky 3.82 71 ratings18 reviews Here is the reissue of Bruce Lansky's Poetry Party, now with a completely new title and cover. This book has more smiles, chuckles, giggles, and guffaws than any other book of poetry previously written by a single author (except If Pigs Could Fly).
My Dog Ate My Homework – Kenn Nesbitt's Poetry4kids.com My Dog Ate My Homework 1241 votes Buy the book The Biggest Burp Ever My dog ate my homework. That mischievous pup got hold of my homework and gobbled it up. My dog ate my homework. It’s gonna be late. I guess that the teacher will just have to wait. My dog ate my homework.
“The dog ate my homework” is, perhaps, the oldest excuse in the book. But it really happened to John Steinbeck! His dog, Toby, apparently ate half of the first manuscript of Of Mice and Men. On this very day, May 27, 1936, he wrote: Minor tragedy stalked. My setter pup, left alone one night, made confetti of about half of my manuscript book.
The phrase was actually built up through a series of sentences like, ' My dog chewed it up ' and ' My cat chewed it up and I had no time to do it over. ' These sentences were first used in the 1965 comic novel, Up the Down Staircase. But it mainly became popular in 1974 when a book was written with the title, ' The Cat Ate My Gym.
My Dog Ate My Homework Hardcover – March 1, 2003 by Bruce Lansky (Author) 8 ratings Hardcover $10.00 9 Used from $4.75 1 New from $10.00 Paperback $8.32 8 Used from $5.12 2 New from $11.00 1 Collectible from $59.95 Here is the reissue of Bruce Lansky's Poetry Party, now with a completely new title and cover.
Between 1990 and 2000, the New York Times wrote articles with headlines such as “ Beyond ‘Dog Ate My Homework’ ” and “ Homework Help Sites (Or, the Dog Ate My U.R.L.) ,” while The...