lap dog

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English[edit]

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Noun[edit]

lap dog (plural lap dogs)

  1. A small dog, kept as household pet, whose light weight and companionable temperament make it both suited and disposed to spend time resting in the comfort of its master's lap; a dog bred to behave in this manner.
    • 1766, Oliver Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield, ch. 17:
      A lady loses her muff, her fan, or her lap-dog, and so the silly poet runs home to versify the disaster.
    • 1889, F. Marion Crawford, Greifenstein, ch. 4:
      Frau von Greifenstein had seated herself in a straw chair with her parasol, her fan and her lap-dog, a little toy terrier which was always suffering from some new and unheard-of nervous complaint.
    • 2007 Dec. 1, Harry Hurt III, "Proof That Overscheduled Modern Life Isn’t Fit for a Dog," New York Times (retrieved 5 Dec 2011):
      Steffi is a tricolor King Charles spaniel, an archetypal lap dog and love sponge, barely a foot high and no more than 10 pounds.
  2. (idiomatic, by extension) A person who behaves in a servile manner, such as a sycophantic employee or a fawning lover.
    • 1910, E. M. Forster, Howards End, ch. 16:
      As a lady's lap-dog Leonard did not excel. He was not an Italian, still less a Frenchman.
    • 2007 Oct. 28, Dan Bilefsky, "The Special Relationship Tries to Swim the Channel," New York Times (retrieved 5 Dec 2011):
      Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who vacations in Cape Cod, has nevertheless been . . . determined to shed the image of his predecessor, Tony Blair, as America’s lap dog.

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