American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. The hot, sultry period of summer between early July and early September.
- n. A period of stagnation.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- A part of the year about the time of the heliacal rising of the dog-star. Various dates, from July 3d to August 15th, have been assigned for the first dog-day, and various durations, from 30 to 54 days. Pliny says they began with the heliacal rising of Procyon, which took place, he says, July 19th, N. S.; and this date has been widely accepted. But he also says the sun was then entering Leo, which rule, making the dog-days begin July 23d, has also been used. Hippocrates (450 b. c.) says they were in the hottest and most unhealthy part of summer. If the season was of Babylonian origin, it would originally probably have been in early summer. Perhaps they are now most usually reckoned from July 3d to August 11th, inclusive.
- n. The days between early July and early September when Sirius (the Dog Star) rises and sets with the Sun.
- n. hot, lazy days
- n. A period of inactivity, laziness, or stagnation.
GNU Webster's 1913
- A period of from four to six weeks, in the summer, variously placed by almanac makers between the early part of July and the early part of September; canicular days; -- so called in reference to the rising in ancient times of the Dog Star (Sirius) with the sun. Popularly, the sultry, close part of the summer; metaphorically, a period of inactivity.
- n. the hot period between early July and early September; a period of inactivity
- 1538, from Latin dies caniculares, translated from Ancient Greek; originally from the hot summer days (in the Northern Hemisphere) when Sirius (the Dog Star), in Canis Major, rose and set with the Sun (heliacal rising). The Greeks also made reference to these "dog days", and for the ancient Egyptians, c.3000 B.C.E., the rising of this star coincided with the summer solstice and the start of Nile flooding. The "dog" association apparently began here, as the star's hieroglyph was a dog, a watchdog for the flooding of the Nile. (Wiktionary)
- Translation of Late Latin diēs canīculārēs, Dog Star days (so called because the Dog Star (Sirius) rises and sets with the sun during this time) : Latin diēs, pl. of diēs, day + Late Latin canīculārēs, pl. of canīculāris, of the Dog Star. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“And spring turned into summer, and summer into the dog days of Sextilis, when Sirius the Dog Star shimmered sullenly over a heat-paralyzed Rome.”
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