shag·​gy-dog | \ ˌsha-gē-ˈdȯg How to pronounce shaggy-dog (audio) \

Definition of shaggy-dog

: of, relating to, or being a long-drawn-out circumstantial story concerning an inconsequential happening that impresses the teller as humorous or interesting but the hearer as boring and pointless also : of, relating to, or being a similar humorous story whose humor lies in the pointlessness or irrelevance of the plot or punch line a shaggy-dog comedy

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The origin of the adjective shaggy-dog isn't truly known, but lexicographer Eric Partridge rather believably tells us that it originated with a shaggy-dog story of the amusing sort that involves—of course!—a shaggy dog. Today, the word sometimes refers to a rambling story that impresses the teller as humorous or interesting but the hearer as boring and pointless, but it can also refer to a similar story (or movie or TV show) that is actually humorous and whose humor lies in its very pointlessness or irrelevance.

First Known Use of shaggy-dog

1946, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of shaggy-dog was in 1946

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shaggy-dog story

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Cite this Entry

“Shaggy-dog.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jul. 2022.

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