That Dog Won't Hunt: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
September 22, 2023

The expression "that dog won't hunt" is a colorful way to convey that a particular idea, excuse, or plan isn't going to work or isn't valid. It implies skepticism or disbelief regarding the feasibility or truthfulness of something.

In short:

"That dog won't hunt" typically means an idea or plan isn't going to work or isn't valid.

What Does "That Dog Won't Hunt" Mean?

The phrase "that dog won't hunt" straightforwardly signals that a specific idea, excuse, or plan isn't going to succeed or be effective. Rooted in hunting culture, where a non-performing dog is of little use, this colloquialism has been widely adopted to express skepticism or disagreement.

Let's dive into its core meanings and usage:

  • Primarily, it suggests an idea, plan, or argument that is flawed or ineffective.
  • It can also express disbelief in someone's story or excuse.

The beauty of idioms is that they can be versatile, carrying different nuances depending on the context in which they are used.

Where Does "That Dog Won't Hunt" Come From?

The origin of this idiom traces back to the American South, relating to hunting dogs.

"If a dog won't track game, then it isn't much use on a hunt."

This sentiment was metaphorically extended to other situations, indicating something that wouldn't work or wasn't valid.

10 Examples of "That Dog Won't Hunt" in Sentences

Let's explore some sentences to see this idiom in action.

  • I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that dog won't hunt with your proposed solution.
  • I tried to surf the net for alternative solutions, but most seemed like "that dog won't hunt situations."
  • If you think you can graduate without studying, that dog won't hunt.
  • Are you blaming the printer for not turning in your assignment? Sorry, but that dog won't hunt here.
  • I'm sorry to hear that your project wasn't approved. Many believed that dogs won't hunt from the start.
  • I've been there before, trying to pitch an idea, only to be told, "That dog won't hunt."
  • She said she missed the meeting because her alarm clock didn't go off, but that dog won't hunt.
  • You're trying to convince me that you forgot we had a test today? That dog won't hunt.
  • Let's put a pin in that idea for now; I feel like that dog won't hunt.
  • Are you blaming your sibling for eating the last cookie when you have crumbs on your face? That dog won't hunt.

As we can see, the idiom can be used in various situations to express skepticism or doubt.

Examples of "That Dog Won't Hunt" in Pop Culture

  • In Steel Magnolias, a character uses the idiom to express disbelief in another's story.
  • Monarch's song "That Dog Won't Hunt" employs the phrase as its central theme.
  • In an episode of the popular TV series The Simpsons, Cletus uses the idiom.

Other/Different Ways to Say "That Dog Won't Hunt"

There are other ways to convey a similar message. Here are some alternatives:

  • That won't work.
  • It's not going to fly.
  • That's not going to cut it.

Each of these phrases, like our idiom, casts doubt on an idea or plan.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "That Dog Won't Hunt":

  • What does "That dog won't hunt" mean?

It usually means an idea, plan, or excuse that is not going to work or isn't believable.

  • Where did the idiom originate?

It traces its roots back to the American South, related to hunting dogs that wouldn't track game.

  • Is the phrase used outside of the United States?

While it's primarily an American idiom, its usage has spread, and some people outside the US might be familiar with it, especially due to pop culture.

  • Are there any movies where this idiom is used?

Yes, movies like Steel Magnolias have characters using the phrase.

  • Can this idiom be used in a positive context?

Typically, the idiom carries a negative connotation, indicating skepticism or disbelief.

  • Is the phrase old-fashioned or still in use today?

While it may have older origins, the phrase is still understood and used by many today, especially in the American South.

  • Are there songs named after this idiom?

Yes, there's a song called "That Dog Won't Hunt" by Monarch.

  • Does it only relate to hunting?

No, while its origins relate to hunting, its modern usage is metaphorical, referring to any idea or plan that won't work.

  • Is it used in literature?

Yes, the phrase has appeared in various books and literary works, primarily to convey disbelief or skepticism about something.

  • Can the idiom be modified, like "This dog won't hunt"?

Yes, while "that dog won't hunt" is the most common form, slight modifications can be made to fit different contexts or emphasis.

Final Thoughts About "That Dog Won't Hunt"

The idiom "that dog won't hunt" means that an idea or plan isn't likely to succeed. It's another saying, "That's not going to work." This saying comes from hunters; if a dog doesn't chase after animals, it's not much help. Today, people use this phrase to show they don't believe something will work out.

Here's a quick wrap-up:

  • The idiom "that dog won't hunt" has its roots in the American South but has since become widely recognized.
  • It's a colorful way to express doubt, disbelief, or skepticism about something.
  • Like many idioms, it adds richness and flavor to the language, making conversations more lively and engaging.

Remember this idiom the next time you encounter a dubious claim or a plan that seems flawed. It's a concise way to express your skepticism and add a touch of linguistic flair to your response.

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