"cheese hound" -- query

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Fri Jul 6 11:46:24 UTC 2001


In my speech (laid down in Louisville KY in the 1940's) , a "cheese
hound" refers both literally to the fact that the dog likes cheese
and will hunt all over a room to find even a tidbit of it and to the
fact that this in-the-house training makes the dog useless ("cheesy")
for field sports.

In the quote you cited, there appears to be no connection with the
well-known "X+hound" construction (many of which are sexual) in which
the "hound" lusts after "X" (and is usually a person not a dog).

I suspect your quote makes fun of a dog worthless for hunting (with
its amazing multilingual tail-wagging ability). I would be surprised
if there were no old-timers down your way who are not familiar with
this "cheese hound" = "good-for-nothing dog."

As I recall, there is also "biscuit hound" (or "bisuit-eating dog")
from other regions of the south used to refer to a table-scraps fed
dog, which, acocoding to hunting dog owners, makes dogs "soft" and no
good for the field. (See "biscuit-eater" DARE vol. 1 , p. 246.
"Cheese-eater" is also there - p. 603 - but only from
African-Americans and in what, IMHO, may be an extended sense from
the canine original.)


>    I am currently compiling vol. 1 of a dictionary of baseball and
>other slang in the sports columns (primarily baseball) of the
>newspaper _San Francisco Bulletin_, Feb. through May 1913. Most of
>the terms I've come across are now clear to me, but there are some 12
>items for which I draw a blank.
>    The first one is "cheese hound." The context in which it appears
>is nonsensical, and the term may have simply been made up in a
>whimsical vein by the writer of the quote below. Still, is anyone
>familiar with it? And might there be any rationale to "cheese"
>appearing in the term?
>     The quote appears on May 31, 1913, p.10, col. 5, in 'Sporting
>Tit-Bits by "Mac"':
>'Charley Cleaver's great Siberian cheese hound, King C., took much
>delight in showing up all comers at the dog show in Dreamland rink
>yesterday.  Mr. Cleaver's daring cheese hound has it on all rivals.
>Cleaver's pet canine can wag his tail in seven languages, and orders
>"ine stein" with all the eclat of a Teuton fully illuminated at a
>Schutzenfest.  Mr. Cleaver's canine was recently imported from
>Vladivostok.  He is frequently on exhibition at Mr. Cleaver's place
>of call on Steiner and Sutter streets.  Cleaver swears by the cheese
>hound and is willing to take an affidavit that even his hair is
>--Gerald Cohen

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

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