What does Every Dog Has Its Day Mean?

Every Dog Has Its Day Meaning

Definition: Everyone, even someone of low social status, has a moment of glory or an opportunity for revenge.

Sometimes people change the pronoun and use the variation every dog has his day.

Origin of Every Dog Has Its Day

This expression is several thousand years old, albeit it has not always appeared in this exact English phrasing.

Erasmus traced the metaphor itself to a Macedonian proverb about the death of Euripides in 406 B.C. While on a visit to the king of Macedonia, the Greek playwright was attacked and killed by dogs that a rival had set upon him.

This first recorded English use of the phrase was in a letter from Queen Elizabeth in the early 1500s. The letter itself was published by John Strype in Ecclesiastical Memorials in 1550.

  • Notwithstanding, as a dog hath a day, so may I perchance have time to declare it in deeds.

It appears that the Queen was quoting an already popular saying of the time. Also, given the age of this expression, it was probably in use before the Queen penned this letter, but there are no prior English recordings.

John Heywood included the phrase in his 1546 book of proverbs Proverbs and Epigrams:

  • “As euery man saith, a dog hatha daie”

This, again, goes to show that it was a common expression of the time.

The English playwright William Shakespeare also helped popularize the idiom, as the expression appeared in his play Hamlet around the year 1600.

Examples of Every Dog Has Its Day

every dog has its day originThis example shows two coworkers who are talking about a video one of them made and posted online.

Regina: Ginny, did you see this video? It’s a video of a cute little kitten sneezing over and over again. It’s wearing a little Santa hat. It’s so cute!

Ginny: Yeah, I did. I actually filmed that video. That’s my kitten.

Regina: Are you serious? This video is going viral. I saw it on the morning news, and it has millions of views online.

Ginny: I know! I had no idea the reaction this video would get. I’m such a private person. I’ve never even met anyone famous, and now my cat is famous. A few morning talk show hosts want me to bring my kitten on their shows.

Regina: Congratulations!

Ginny: Thanks. I guess every dog has its day.

every dog has its day sayingIn this example, two friends are talking about a contest that one of them just won.

Kevin: Steve, I have great news!

Steve: What is it?

Kevin: Do you remember how I never won any awards when I was younger? I tried so hard at so many different sports. I tried horse riding, soccer, and track and field. I even tried instruments like the violin. I always came in last in every contest.

Steve: I remember. What about it?

Kevin: I finally won a contest! I won the county fair’s hot dog eating contest! Whoo hoo!

Steve: Oh, er, congratulations! Every dog has his day I suppose.

More Examples

This is a headline that uses the idiom literally to talk about dogs. It says that dogs have a moment of glory while participating in a famous, dog-powered sled race.

  • Every dog has his day — many of them when it comes to the Iditarod –Washington Post

This excerpt uses the expression in a play on words. They are joking that dogs will be in a trial to decide if dogs can be used to smell for evidence when police are investigating a crime.

  • Every dog has its day, but not every dog has its day in court. Aldo, a German shepherd, and Franky, a chocolate Labrador retriever, are exceptions. The Supreme Court plans to hear their cases on Wednesday. –New York Times

Summary

The phrase every dog has his day emphasizes that all people will be successful at something, at some time in their lives. It also can refer to revenge.