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Origin of the saying “Every dog has it’s day”

February 27, 2009

So where did the saying “Every dog has it’s day” or “Every dog has his day” come from? I did some research and found the phrase is over 450 years old. It became popularized from Hamlet by William Shakespeare in the early 1600’s.  However, there are various forms of it that originated earlier.

The meaning of the quote in our current era, “Every dog has its day or every dog has his day”  is very simple. It means everyone gets a chance eventually; or that everyone is successful during some period in their life. (Example: Don’t worry, you’ll get chosen for the team. Every dog has its day. You may become famous someday. Every dog has his day.) This is from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs.

Here is a brief history on the famous quote we recite today:

A dogge hath a day.
[1545 R. Taverner tr. Erasmus’ Adages (ed. 2) 63]

Let Hercules himself do what he may, The cat will mew, and dog will have his day.
[1600-1 Shakespeare Hamlet v. i. 286]

s.v. Fevrier, Euerie dog hath his day.
[1611 R. Cotgrave Dict. French & English]

Dogs, ye have had your day; ye fear’d no more Ulysses vengeful from the Trojan shore.
[1726 Pope Odyssey V. xxii.]

How changed for Marat, lifted from his dark cellar!‥All dogs have their day; even rabid dogs.
[1837 Carlyle French Revolution III. i. i.]

Young blood must have its course, lad, And every dog his day.    [1863 C. Kingsley Water Babies ii.]

‘She could be his sister.’ ‘No way—not with a face like that.’ ‘Well, every dog deserves his day.’
[1978 ‘M. Craig’ Were He Stranger x.]

PAWSITIVE NOTE: So today I want to remind you that every dog has its day!  If your time to shine has not come yet, it will. All you have to do is believe and focus all your energy into it.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Cee64E permalink
    October 10, 2009 11:16 pm

    I read once in a book entitled “Mutts” that the proper quote was “…every man shall have his hour, and every dog his day…” referring to the idea that a dog is more deserving of honor than a man… I wish i could remember it better…

  2. Gir permalink
    September 22, 2011 6:45 am

    Good post about the phrase that tells about a moment of triumph everyone has.

  3. December 12, 2011 9:22 am

    This is very interesting. Thanks for doing the research. I’m wondering if the expression was coined even earlier in some language other than English. That would possibly include the same core meaning but citing a different animal due to cultural contexts.

  4. Degru permalink
    March 24, 2012 9:46 pm

    Hmm. That’s pretty interesting. I guess with all the bad things that man has done, a dog does deserve more honor.

  5. April 26, 2013 2:22 am

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  8. July 2, 2013 1:36 pm

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  9. February 9, 2014 11:10 pm

    From the movie SCARFACE:

    ‘Every dog has its day, Mel’
    (Tony Montana before shooting the corrupt cop that was trying to tax him).

    Interesting, as Al Pacino was the main character in the movie Dog Day Afternoon!

  10. kristian permalink
    April 25, 2014 3:27 am

    I just recently found out that the Spanish version of the saying is “cada santo tiene su día”. I was wondering if the English one is a variant of this, replacing “saint” with “dog” sometime during the Reformation? Because the Spanish one basically makes sense – every saint does have a day (in the calendar) – whereas the English one doesn’t. Just a thought.

  11. May 4, 2014 12:47 pm

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  12. saranshi permalink
    August 14, 2014 5:40 am

    hamlet by Shakespeare made it popular

  13. October 19, 2015 5:40 am

    Thank you Stunt Dog,
    I am waiting for one of my “pups” to have his day, this quote came to me yesterday and I found your research just now, upon Googling the phrase.
    I particularly like your kind and loving tone, “So today I want to remind you that every dog has its day! If your time to shine has not come yet, it will. All you have to do is believe and focus all your energy into it.”

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