Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Dog Days


The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is dog days. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Dog days is a plural noun that refers to the hottest time of the year, which in the northern hemisphere is usually between early July and early September. Dog days can also refer to a period of stagnation or inactivity suggestive of hot, sultry weather when it can be difficult to summon the energy required for hard work.

// The kids swim every afternoon during the dog days of summer.

DOG DAYS in Context

“Streets with mature trees command higher home prices, temper the dog days of summer and draw more people outdoors for fresh air, walks and chats with neighbors.” — Celia Llopis-Jepsen, Kansas News Service, 9 May 2023

Did You Know?

Idle hands may be the devil’s workshop, but let’s be serious: when it’s stiflingly hot outside, who among us isn’t tempted to shirk work to go lie doggo in the shade somewhere? Such is the desire of many a creature—not just dogs (or lexicographers)—during the dog days of summer. If you’re curious how dogs got singled out in this expression, however, you might say it was in the stars. The dog in dog days is the Dog Star, aka Sirius, the star that represents the hound of the hunter Orion in the eponymous constellation. The star has long been associated with sultry weather in the northern hemisphere because it rises simultaneously with the sun during the hottest days of summer.

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