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The Latin word canicula, meaning "small dog," is the diminutive form of "canis," source of the English word canine. "Canicula" is also the Latin name for Sirius, the star that represents the hound of Orion in the constellation named for that hunter from Roman and Greek mythology. Because the first visible rising of Sirius occurs during the summer, the hot sultry days that occur from early July to early September came to be associated with the Dog Star. The Greeks called this time of year "hēmerai kynades," which the Romans translated into Latin as dies caniculares, or as we know them in English, "the dog days."
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