a guess on pooch=dog origin

Dale Coye Dalecoye at AOL.COM
Mon Sep 1 16:43:11 UTC 2003

Here's a speculation on the origin of pooch=dog which the OED lists as
unknown.  The 1912  evidence Barry has just uncovered is just a decade after the
first dialect evidence of the noun and verb pooch meaning 'pouch' or "to bulge
out".   The hypothesis I'm proposing is based on the first nominal citation in
DARE from Maine 1904, an insulting reference to someone as "old pooch-mouth"
and later in 1908 describing a politician as "a pooch-mouthed blabber". Later in
MD 1942 there is the variant pooch-jawed 'jaws protruding at the sides'.
   To me this conjures up the image of a jowly individual, and what other
creature comes to mind when we think of jowls?  Dogs.  So maybe the phrase
"pooch-mouth" was used at first to refer to a person with jowls, and later was
reinterpreted by others to mean someone who looked like a dog, and then the
equation pooch=dog was made.
       It's also interesing that the first cites are in ME, when this looks
like a Scots word,or Scots-Irish, now mostly Southern.  The old Middle English
pooch for pouch is still used in parts of Scotland I believe.   Maybe these
Maine cites actually meant "dog-mouthed" to the author at that time?

Dale Coye
The College of NJ

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