Where did the term "doggone it" come from?

4 Answers 4


From Etymonline:

doggone 1851, Amer.Eng., a "fantastic perversion of god-damned" [Weekley]. But Mencken favors the theory that it is "a blend form of dog on it; in fact it is still often used with it following. It is thus a brother to the old English phrase, 'a pox upon it,' but is considerably more decorous."

Others have it derived from the Scottish dagone, or "gone to the dogs," but there's a bit of debate about that.

From my own search, I found several pre-1851 uses. It looks like it may have first appeared in print in a British publication, albeit of an American vernacular dialog, in Adventures in Mexico and the Rocky Mountains by British explorer George Ruxton, 1847 (date check):


It subsequently appeard three times in 1848 in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, in articles written by Ruxton while living in America.

  • 3
    I think given related oaths such as dang, dagnab it, dratted, tarnation, etc., we can safely take it they're all basically eupemistic / bowlderised variations on [god-]damned. May 2, 2011 at 1:19
  • "dog on it"... my first thought was "and what are dogs infamous for? Exactly, shitting everywhere", which would make "dog on it" a synonym of "shit on it". Which is probably not really English, but I'm prone to say it (to myself) as a not-really-translation of "Scheiss drauf" ;-) That's my story and I'm sticking to it (like that dog-stuff to a shoe ;-) May 2, 2011 at 6:48
  • I think the association of dogs with shitting is a rather modern one; previous centuries didn't have quite the same fastidiousness as we have today.
    – Colin Fine
    May 2, 2011 at 11:49

One possible route to doggone would be God damn -> God darn -> doggarn -> doggone. The earliest I could find a reference to dog garn is in the play Ossawattomie Brown, or The Insurrection at Harper's Ferry, by Mrs. J. C. Swayze (1859) reprinted here. There are also a few Google books hit for doggarn in the 1870's and 1880's. I think this is fairly good evidence for the derivation through doggarn.


As reported by the NOAD, the origin of the word is early 19th century, probably from dog on it, euphemism for God damn it.


perhaps from the Scotch "dagone," gone to the dogs, or maybe an alteration of G*ddamn, 1851; doggoned, 1857.

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