Understanding the Idiom: "lap dog" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: English

Throughout history, lap dogs have been associated with luxury and status symbols. In medieval times, they were often depicted sitting at the feet of aristocrats or royalty. Today, lap dogs continue to be popular among those who seek companionship and affection from their pets.

The idiom “lap dog” has taken on a negative connotation over time due to its association with blind obedience and lack of independent thought. It can be used to criticize someone who blindly follows orders without questioning them or someone who seeks favor from those in power by being overly compliant.

In the next sections, we will explore some common phrases that use this idiom and provide examples of how it can be used in everyday conversation. We will also discuss some alternative expressions that convey similar meanings but without using potentially offensive language.

To summarize, understanding the meaning behind idioms like “lap dog” can help us better communicate our thoughts and feelings in different situations. By examining its origins and usage over time, we can gain a deeper appreciation for how language evolves and reflects societal attitudes towards certain behaviors or traits.

Origins and Historical Context of the Idiom “lap dog”

The phrase “lap dog” is a common idiom used to describe someone who is obedient and subservient to another person. The origins of this idiom can be traced back to ancient times, where lap dogs were often kept by wealthy individuals as a symbol of their status and wealth.

During the Renaissance period in Europe, lap dogs became even more popular among the upper classes. They were often depicted in paintings and sculptures as a symbol of luxury and refinement. It was during this time that the term “lap dog” began to be used figuratively to describe people who were seen as being overly dependent on others for their own well-being.

In modern times, the term “lap dog” has taken on a negative connotation, with many people using it to criticize those who are seen as being too submissive or weak-willed. However, it is important to remember that the origins of this idiom are rooted in history and culture, and its meaning has evolved over time.

Below is a table summarizing some key points about the historical context of the idiom “lap dog”:

Time Period Description
Ancient Times Lap dogs were kept by wealthy individuals as a symbol of status.
Renaissance Period Lap dogs became even more popular among the upper classes.
Modern Times The term “lap dog” has taken on a negative connotation.

Usage and Variations of the Idiom “lap dog”

One variation of this idiom is “lapdog journalism”. This term refers to journalists who are overly deferential to those in power and fail to hold them accountable for their actions. It implies that these journalists act more like lap dogs than watchdogs, which are supposed to keep a close eye on those in power.

Another variation of this idiom is “lapdog politician”. This phrase describes politicians who are subservient to their party leaders or powerful interest groups, rather than representing the interests of their constituents. It suggests that these politicians have abandoned their duty as public servants and have become mere lap dogs for those with more power.

The usage of “lap dog” can also vary depending on the context in which it is used. For example, it can be used affectionately to describe a small breed of dog that likes to curl up on its owner’s lap. In contrast, when used metaphorically, it has negative connotations and implies weakness or subservience.

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Idiom “lap dog”


– Sycophant

– Yes-man

– Flatterer

– Fawner

– Toady

These words all refer to a person who behaves obsequiously towards someone in order to gain an advantage or favor. They can be used interchangeably with “lap dog” in certain contexts.


– Independent-minded

– Self-reliant

– Assertive

– Bold

– Courageous

These adjectives describe people who are not submissive or obedient like lap dogs. They imply strength of character and a willingness to stand up for oneself.

Cultural Insights
In some cultures, lap dogs are seen as status symbols and fashion accessories rather than pets.
The term “lap dog” is often used metaphorically in political discourse to criticize politicians who blindly follow their party leaders without questioning their decisions.

Practical Exercises for the Idiom “lap dog”

Exercise 1: Fill in the Blanks

Instructions: Complete each sentence by choosing the correct word from the options provided.

1. The new employee was a ___________, always following his boss around.

a) lap dog

b) watchdog

c) guard dog

2. She treated her husband like a ___________, always telling him what to do.

a) lap dog

b) watchdog

c) guard dog

3. The politician’s assistant was nothing more than a ___________ who did whatever he was told.

a) lap dog

b) watchdog

c) guard dog

4. He had become so dependent on his girlfriend that he had turned into her ___________.

a) lap dog

b) watchdog

c) guard dog

Exercise 2: Create Your Own Sentences

Instructions: Use the idiom “lap dog” in your own sentences that demonstrate its meaning.


– My boss treats me like her lap dog, always asking me to run errands for her.

Now it’s your turn! Write at least three sentences using the idiom “lap dog.”

Note: Don’t forget to check your spelling and grammar before submitting!

By practicing these exercises, you’ll be able to confidently use the idiom “lap dog” in appropriate contexts and impress others with your knowledge of English idioms!

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Idiom “lap dog”

When using idioms, it is important to understand their meanings and usage in context. The idiom “lap dog” is often used to describe someone who blindly follows another person or organization without question. However, there are common mistakes that people make when using this idiom.

One mistake is assuming that the idiom only applies to individuals who are subservient or submissive. While this may be a common usage, it is not the only one. The idiom can also refer to organizations or countries that are overly dependent on another entity.

Another mistake is using the term too broadly without considering its appropriateness in context. It’s important to remember that idioms have specific connotations and should be used carefully and thoughtfully.

Lastly, some people may use the idiom as an insult without fully understanding its meaning. This can lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

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