Dogs wag their tail to communicate with humans and other animals. Wag the dog is, in politics, the act of creating a diversion from a damaging issue. Redefine your inbox with Dictionary.com updates. Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free! The complexity of the tail wag is immense, and while many people unfamiliar with dog behavior think that a tail wag means a dog is Origin of Tail Wagging the Dog This expression first appeared in the 1800s. They reorganized their entire weekly schedule just because their son likes to sleep in late. According to research Barry Popik, the variation, don’t let the tax tail wag the investment dog, emerged in the 1960s to caution businesspeople against making decisions solely on the bases of tax concerns. Directed by Barry Levinson. Dun Now I’ve got another. Thrashing Tail Movements. note 5] is at the tail, but the recent proceedings at Cincinnati [cf. Most people comprehend the wagging tail of a dog as an invitation to approach. Just like dogs, cats move their tails to express their emotions. 1  Often, it seems fairly obvious what the dog is trying to tell you when it wags its tail. “Will someone teach @realDonaldTrump how to wag the dog without actually going to war?”, “My fear is that Trump is doing this so that in our outrage we miss what his real agenda is. Estimated Read Time: 5 ½ minutes Unfortunately, our doggo’s can’t back to us (Unless they’re like Bunny the Sheepadoodle, who’s learned how to communicate via buttons with her pet parents! Lord Dundreary, a fictional British nobleman, makes a number of execrable jokes in this play. The meaning is quite obvious, the subsidiary part is controlling the major part. Some presidents, when they get into trouble before an election, try to “wag the dog” by starting a war abroad. Wag the dog comes from the longer expression the tail wagging the dog. [Laughter]— The Baltimore Sun, 4 May 1868, The idiom appears in a variety of forms over the next hundred years or so, typically in the sense of ‘a less important thing controlling a more important one.’, Ordinarily the resolution is of more importance than the preamble, but here the relation is reversed. Definitions by the largest Idiom Dictionary. ‘Even asking whether The Superstar Effect or TLT will win in a fight is like asking whether the dog wags the tail or the tail wags the dog.’ ‘But, they persist, peddling garbage, contradicting themselves in public (as in the example I posted), asserting the illogical (e.g. So what does it mean when a cat wags its tail? The tail wagging the dog definition is - —used to describe a situation in which an important or powerful person, organization, etc., is being controlled by someone or something that … There is a lot of information contained in the movement of your dog’s tail, which is why tail wags can mean so many things. It’s important to keep a close eye on a tail held high or over the dog’s back, Radosta says. “Are we witnessing an Obama ‘Wag the Dog’ moment with Boko Haram in Nigeria? the tail wagging the dog phrase. This is the British English definition of the tail wagging the dog.View American English definition of the tail wagging the dog.. Change your default dictionary to American English. Do you know these earlier meanings of words? THE TAIL WAGS THE DOG. I say yes.”— Michael Hirsch, Politico, 12 May 2014, U.S. Biden sworn in as 46th President, impeach Get Page and check your text using a unique Contextual Grammar and Spell Checker. If he wasn’t the tail would wag the dog.” Sharp reasoning, that.— The Union Democrat (Manchester, NH), 12 May 1863, ”Why,” says his lordship, “the reason is because the dog is greater than the tail.” “If it were otherwise,” says that profound thinker, ”the tail would wag the dog.” [Laughter.] But while we’ve covered the more recognizable wags, what lies beneath is rather intriguing. To wag the dog means to distract attention away from a political scandal, often through military action. From the phrase, 'It's the tail that wags the dog.' Research by Gary Martin for the UK-based website Phrase Finder first finds the expression in an 1872 local newspaper, The Daily Republican : “Calling to mind Lord Dundreary’s conundrum, the Baltimore American thinks that for the Cincinnati Convention to control the Democratic party would be the tail … Ha!— Tom Taylor, Our American Cousin, 1869. In fact, a wag of the tail is one of the best methods of communication in the canine kingdom. Tail wagging is also a social indicator, which means that a dog won't wag their tail unless they're around other dogs or humans. 'Nip it in the butt' or 'Nip it in the bud'. Since the election split the country in two, half almost automatically disagreeing with whatever Bush decides, most of his quick actions have drawn much criticism. The tail wagging the dog is an American idiom that dates back to at least the 1870s. To wag the dog means to distract attention away from a political scandal, often through military action. This is not meant to be a formal definition of wag the dog like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is In 1998, when Bill Clinton’s scandal regarding Monica Lewinsky broke, he was accused of “wagging the dog.” Three days after admitting he had inappropriate relations with Lewinsky, he ordered missile strikes against two countries, allegedly to divert public attention from his sex scandal. note 4] is at the head of his party, and Mr. Blaine [cf. The popular notion is that when a dog wags his tails, it implies a happy and friendly dog. In the film, titled Wag the Dog, fictional political fixers orchestrate the invasion of a country in order to distract from a presidential sex scandal. ).So, we as their owners have to rely on their bark, body language… It is, after all, what dogs do — alert us to situations that are outside the norm. Check out words from the year you were born and more! that will help our users expand their word mastery. Shortly before an election, a spin-doctor and a Hollywood producer join efforts to fabricate a war in order to cover up a Presidential sex scandal. Tail wagging is also a social indicator, which means that a dog won't wag their tail unless they're around other dogs or humans. In 1907, it appeared in Von Arnum’s Fraulein Schmidt. For example, the faster the speed, the more excited the dog – that’s obvious. Although wag the dog was initially applied to Clinton, the sense of ‘superfluous military action to distract from domestic scandal’ has been too useful to leave in the 1990s, and has been applied to every subsequent president. I, along with many political experts, believe that this action by Bush was a classic case of "wag the dog" syndrome.— Pantagraph (Bloomington, IL), 2 Mar. 1874, There was no compromise promised and no alteration of the tactics the Communists have adopted from the first of reserving the right of the tail to wag the dog.— P. J. Philip, The New York Times, 7 Dec. 1936. Learn a new word every day. Animals, Circumstances, Dog W 1 Thought when it rains, it pours ❯❮ up a blind alley Others have come from the world of theater, such as malapropism (“a usually humorous misapplication of a word or phrase”), from the name of a character in Richard Sheridan’s 1775 play The Rivals. The idiom the tail wagging the dog came out, based on a 1993 novel of the tail wagging dog. 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