Word of the Day : May 23, 2020

shaggy-dog

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adjective shag-ee-DAWG

Definition

: 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

Did You Know?

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.


Examples

"Like most of Irving's other books, 'Owen Meany' is kind of a shaggy-dog story. It wanders all over the place and there are many seemingly loose ends." — Neil Gittleman, quoted in The Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, 13 Apr. 2020

"A shaggy-dog tale that treats crisscrossing forklift traffic as a sight worthy of the Blue Danube waltz, the German feature 'In the Aisles' mostly takes place in an anonymous, highway-side megastore…." — Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times, 13 June 2019



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