Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Nautical Either of two short periods of watch duty, from 4 to 6 P.M. or 6 to 8 P.M.
  • n. A late night shift.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Aboard a ship, either of the two short two-hour watches that take place between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
  • n. A night shift, or other very late or early period of duty.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A half watch; a watch of two hours, of which there are two, the first dogwatch from 4 to 6 o'clock, p. m., and the second dogwatch from 6 to 8 o'clock, p. m.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Nautical, a watch of two hours, arranged so as to alter the watches kept from day to day by each division of the crew. The first dog-watch is from 4 to 6 p. m., the second from 6 to 8 p. m. See watch.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. either of two short watches: from 4-6 pm or 6-8 pm

Etymologies

Probably from dog-sleep, a light or interrupted sleep.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From dog + watch. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The officers who came to Walker's aid had worked the "dogwatch" or overnight shift with him on the North Side for most of their time with the department.

    StarTribune.com rss feed

  • In the middle of the first dogwatch, cocoanut trees were sighted due south, their tufted heads rising above the water and marking the low-lying atoll beneath.

    THE SEED OF McCOY

  • This supernatural quasi-human dogwatch crew was no match for a magnificent canine using all of his animal instincts unclouded by any other agenda than saving the human whod saved his ass.

    Dancing with Werewolves

  • And there's great information on breed-specific legislation, from a Canadian perspective, here at dogwatch. net.

    vague and menacing

  • At eight bells at the beginning of the first dogwatch — 4: 00 p.m. — the two ships 'companies assembled at the burial site a quarter of a mile across the ice from Erebus.

    The Terror

  • On a Tuesday dogwatch in the third week of November, the thing from the ice came aboard Erebus and took the well-liked bosun, Mr. Thomas Terry, snatching him from his post near the stern, leaving only the man's head on the railing.

    The Terror

  • At two bells in the first dogwatch — 6: 00 p.m. — the last search parties all come in, none having found the missing men but several seamen shamefaced at having fired their weapons at wind shrieking among the jagged ice or at the ice itself, thinking some serac a looming white bear.

    The Terror

  • Later in the day — with the lightning and airborne electrical displays growing even more violent — the dogwatch lookouts reported something large, much too large to be a mere white bear, prowling and pacing along the ridges in the fog, now concealed, now made visible by lightning flash for only a second or two.

    The Terror

  • And there's great information on breed-specific legislation, from a Canadian perspective, here at dogwatch.net.

    Archive 2005-09-01

  • When Claggart's unobserved glance happened to light on belted Billy rolling along the upper gun deck in the leisure of the second dogwatch, … that glance would follow the cheerful sea Hyperion with a settled meditative and melancholy expression, his eyes strangely suffused with incipient feverish tears.

    Melville in Love

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