dog days

plural noun

: the period between early July and early September when the hot sultry weather of summer usually occurs in the northern hemisphere
: a period of stagnation or inactivity

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.

Examples of dog days in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Honoring 50 Years of Hip-Hop The annual outdoor concert series at historic Fort Dupont, which this year moved from the dog days of summer to the cooler nights of autumn, wraps up with a tribute to the golden anniversary of hip-hop. Chris Richards, Washington Post, 19 Oct. 2023 The Disappointments will be allowed to remain at Petco for another month, as its airbnb kennels offer safe, comfortable surroundings during these familiar dog days — and dog evenings. Nick Canepa, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 Sep. 2023 The tournament starts at the end of the dog days of August, in the lingering heat and humidity of a New York summer. Matthew Futterman, New York Times, 6 Sep. 2023 In the dog days of summer, local families abound, especially those with young children. Brooke Hauser,, 6 Sep. 2023 The dog days of summer will soon give way to crisp falling leaves, as well as a pile of colorful new movies. Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post, 4 Sep. 2023 Platooning might be good in the grueling dog days of the regular season, but in the playoffs, most great teams and coaches narrow their starting lineups. Los Angeles Times, 2 Sep. 2023 From Vermont to Japan and so many destinations in between, the most beautiful fall pictures will get you through the dog days of summer. Samantha Brodsky, House Beautiful, 30 Aug. 2023 This year’s one-day event, which is designed to populate multiplexes and sell popcorn during the dog days of summer, accounted for $34 million in ticket sales. Rebecca Rubin, Variety, 28 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dog days.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


from their being reckoned from the heliacal rising of the Dog Star (Sirius)

First Known Use

1538, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of dog days was in 1538


Dictionary Entries Near dog days

Cite this Entry

“Dog days.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition

dog days

noun plural
: the hot and humid period of summer between early July and early September

translation of Latin dies caniculares, from canicula, literally, "little dog," from canis "dog"; so called from the fact that they begin at the time when the Dog Star rises with or near the sun — related to canine

Word Origin
The brightest star in the sky is Sirius, also known as the Dog Star. Sirius was given this name by the ancients because it was considered the hound of the hunter Orion, whose constellation was nearby; Sirius itself is in a constellation now called Canis Major ("larger dog"). The Dog Star was regarded by the ancient Greeks as the bringer of scorching heat, because its early-morning rising coincided with the hottest summer days of July and August. The Greek writer Plutarch called this time hēmerai kynades, literally, "dog days"—the days of the Dog Star—and via Latin this phrase was translated into English as dog days.

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