I've started reading The Grapes of Wrath and I've run into some old-time phrases that I'm not sure of the meaning. I suppose these must date from the 1920s-1940s.

My dogs was pooped out.

From context I take it to mean his feet are tired from walking, but I'm curious as to the origin of this phrase.

He just done it for ducks

Does it mean he's doing it for show?

He wasn't puttin' on no dog.

No idea.

Is anyone familiar with these? Were they actually real phrases, or turns of phrase invented by Steinbeck?

  • "Pooped (out)" and "putting on the dog" are real phrases. I don't know about "for ducks". – user14111 Feb 14 at 0:22
  • And dogs for feet is real slang — consider the shoe brand Hush Puppies whose motto was at one time (if I remember correctly) they quiet your barking dogs. – Peter Shor Feb 14 at 17:17
  • 1
    "For ducks" means just for fun. – David Anson Feb 14 at 17:32

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