see a man about a dog

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Derived from or popularized by Dion Boucicault's 1866 play Flying Scud, in which a character removes himself from a difficult situation by saying "Excuse me, Mr. Quail, I can't stop: I've got to see a man about a dog". As a Prohibition-era reference to getting alcohol, influenced by the expression hair of the dog.


see a man about a dog

  1. (idiomatic, dated) Used in place of a real explanation when excusing oneself for a short period of time, particularly (euphemistic) to use a toilet or (historical) drink alcohol.
    I'll be right back, but I've got to go to see a man about a dog.

Usage notes[edit]

Although almost any noun can be substituted in place of the dog, it now most commonly expressed as see a man about a horse with the implied context ...about a bet.

Derived terms[edit]