watch·​dog | \ˈwäch-ˌdȯg, ˈwȯch-\

Definition of watchdog 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a dog kept to guard property

2 : one that guards against loss, waste, theft, or undesirable practices


watchdogged; watchdogging; watchdogs

Definition of watchdog (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to act as a watchdog for

Examples of watchdog in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Interior Department’s internal watchdog has referred an investigation into Mr. Zinke to the Justice Department, a person briefed on the matter said last month, a move that could lead to a criminal inquiry. Vivian Salama, WSJ, "Trump, at News Conference, Vows to Retaliate Against Any Investigations," 7 Nov. 2018 Trump has seized on Page and Strzok’s inflammatory texts, which were detailed in a report by the Justice Department’s internal watchdog last month, to paint the FBI and Mueller’s investigation as biased. William Cummings, USA TODAY, "House Republicans threaten FBI lawyer Lisa Page with contempt for ignoring subpoena," 12 July 2018 The Board of Education had split 3-3 on keeping the district’s top internal watchdog. Howard Blume,, "Contract extension for L.A. Unified inspector general falls through," 2 July 2018 Pruitt and his staff have drawn criticism for using special authority to expedite the hires of political appointees, and EPA's internal watchdog has launched a probe into the matter. Robin Bravender, Science | AAAS, "Obama official would have led EPA’s climate science debate—if all agencies took part," 13 June 2018 On February 15, The New York Times reported that Pai is currently under investigation by the top internal watchdog of the FCC for possibly misusing his power to benefit Sinclair Broadcast Group. Danielle Corcione, Teen Vogue, "Sinclair Broadcast Group and Media Monopolies, Explained," 2 Apr. 2018 The idea was to establish an independent, internal watchdog to investigate city operations. Luke Broadwater,, "City Council bill would make Baltimore inspector general independent from mayor," 19 Mar. 2018 The Justice Department's internal watchdog accused McCabe of misconduct. Bill Glauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Leah Vukmir rips Mark Pocan job offer to fired FBI official Andrew McCabe," 19 Mar. 2018 There’s some worry about that: Four foreign governments spent money at Trump properties in 2017, government watchdog group Public Citizen said in January. Alex Ward, Vox, "Democrats won the House — and Trump’s foreign policy may be in trouble," 7 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Celeb watchdog the Shade Room captured the entire interaction, which went down in the comments section of a post partially showing the album's track list. Andrea Park, Teen Vogue, "Ariana Grande Claps Back at Fan Who Accused Her of Cheating on Mac Miller With Pete Davidson," 9 Aug. 2018 The council meeting followed last week's 82-24 vote by OPCW member nations giving the international chemical weapons watchdog the authority to determine blame for chemical attacks for the first time, over strong objections from Russia and Syria. Fox News, "UN members: Syria not answering chemical weapons questions," 3 July 2018 Get all the local news, sports, things to do and watchdog reporting from and The Enquirer with an unlimited digital access subscription. Cincinnati Enquirer,, "First month free: Subscribe to unlimited digital access to," 19 Mar. 2018 The environmental community will be able to watchdog any facility on Earth. John Fialka, Scientific American, "Meet the Satellites that Can Pinpoint Methane and Carbon Dioxide Leaks," 9 Mar. 2018 The three-member board of commissioners that is supposed to watchdog our tax dollars and act as Zimmerman's boss has boosted his pay by more than 60 percent since he was hired in 2010. Mark Naymik,, "Metroparks CEO gets raise, new contract and converts vacation days to cash: Mark Naymik," 8 Jan. 2018 In a statement, Peter Starzynski, executive director of the Northwest Accountability Project, which bills itself as a nonprofit that watchdogs right-leaning organizations, lauded the decision. Joseph O’sullivan, The Seattle Times, "Campaign-finance case against the Freedom Foundation is sent to AG’s office," 29 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'watchdog.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of watchdog


1612, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1902, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about watchdog

Dictionary Entries near watchdog


watch crystal

watch desk





Statistics for watchdog

Last Updated

3 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for watchdog

The first known use of watchdog was in 1612

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for watchdog



English Language Learners Definition of watchdog

: a dog that is trained to guard a place

: a person or organization that makes sure that companies, governments, etc., are not doing anything illegal or wrong


watch·​dog | \ˈwäch-ˌdȯg \

Kids Definition of watchdog

: a dog kept to guard property

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on watchdog

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with watchdog

Spanish Central: Translation of watchdog

Nglish: Translation of watchdog for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of watchdog for Arabic Speakers

Comments on watchdog

What made you want to look up watchdog? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a typical or ideal example

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!