[Ads-l] "put on the dog" -- Mississippi vernacular?

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Sat Nov 1 16:06:56 UTC 2014

>From a front-page article in today's (November 1) NYTimes, on extravagant
partying before football games on the campus of the University of

OXFORD, Miss. — Perhaps there isn’t a word for the ritualized pregame
revelry on the University of Mississippi campus. “Tailgating” certainly
does not do it justice. It might be a gathering of football fans before a
game, but it hardly resembles those celebrated scenes in Green Bay and
Kansas City, which are modest by comparison.

For one, there are the $71,000 portable toilets. And then there’s this
fall’s $750,000 university budget for the quintessentially Southern marvel
known as the Grove. The price tags, and the orchestration, just keep
getting grander.

“We want to put on the dog here,” one fan said, using regional vernacular
for “over the top.”


I'm pretty sure that my mother used the expression, and she was an old-time
New England sort.  The OED at least agrees that it's not limited to
Mississippi.  I take it that it wasn't known to the reporter, though.
 *P26. * *colloq.* (orig. *U.S.*). to put on (the) dog    : to make a
stylish or flashy display, to assume pretentious airs.
1865   in J. S. McKee *Throb of Drums* (1973) 216   We..go out on grand
reviews..and put on a D—D sight of Dog generally.
1924   W. J. Locke *Coming of Amos* xii. 171,   I don't want to put on dog,
but the Lord didn't give me physical strength for nothing.
1926   W. J. Locke *Old Bridge* ii. v. 74   Young Blake puts on dog and
condescends to take the order.
1940   P. G. Wodehouse *Eggs, Beans & Crumpets* 48   An editor's unexampled
opportunities for putting on dog and throwing his weight about.
1962   ‘A. Gilbert’ *No Dust in Attic* xiv. 190   Matron put on a lot of
dog about the hospital's responsibility.
2003   *N.Y. Times* (National ed.) 2 Feb. ix. 8/5,   I abhor the social
stuff... I'm not good at putting on the dog. It's so tiring.

Another expression in the article, probably not coined by the speaker
"The tents themselves can be fashion statements. Some fans hire interior
decorators. One tent on the Walk of Champions (the Grove’s Main Street) is
painted with zebra stripes. One of its owners is Jane Foster, a converted
Mississippi State fan. She brings in a rock band once a year.
“We never lose a party here at Ole Miss,” she said."

George A. Thompson
The Guy Who Still Looks Stuff Up in Books.
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998..

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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