Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Mon Jan 10 21:08:50 UTC 2000

I use it (and learned it that way from my elders) as a euphemism for "I've
got to go take a leak" or "I've got to go take a crap." There are many of
these, two distinctly female (go powder my nose, go straighten the seams on
my stockings) the second obviosly dated (although retro-wear will let you
get away with it).

Even better are what I once called in print (forgot where)
"counter-euphemisms," which do not involve the directness of "take a leak"
but are so convoluted as to call more attention to the statement than even
those direct expressions would; I think my favorite of these is "I have to
go water my lily" although the obviously aggrandizing masculine "I ahve to
go syphon my python" ain't all bad.


>I have for years been trying to understand the meaning/origin of the
>phrase "I've got to go see a man about a dog." It seems like it gets
>used when someone wants to leave a conversation, but seems like more
>than just "I've got to go"
>Anyone know?

Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

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