What is the first known use of the term "cone of shame"?

This refers to the plastic cone affixed around dog's necks when they have had a procedure or medical condition.

Wikipedia fails to shed any light and limits itself to saying

Also known as an Elizabethan collar, E-Collar, Buster collar or pet cone, (sometimes humorously called a pet lamp-shade, pet radar dish, dog-saver, or cone of shame)

sad looking Rough Collie wearing an E-collar

Image source

  • Not just for dogs BTW, almost any mammal might wear one. One of my cats has had to wear one on three occasions, and I've seen them on rabbits, guinea pigs, and ferrets too (though it doesn't work very well for ferrets). Commented Nov 16, 2018 at 18:44
  • @DanBron et al.: Thank you for your effort. Please avoid discussion, debate, or giving answers in comments. The comment thread is reserved for helping to improve the post: friendly clarifying questions, suggestions for improving the question, relevant but transient information, and explanations of your actions. A welcoming place for discussion of posts (or anything else) is our English Language & Usage Chat.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Nov 17, 2018 at 18:16
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    @MetaEd No problem deleting comments. And I know you were only CVer #5, but could you and the other CVers consider the "research" requirement for this particular Q? Because looking up early attestations is a specialist task, and outside of including "I found this in Up! in 2009!", which doesn't answer the Q, Id on't know what other research we could have expected of the OP.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Nov 17, 2018 at 18:18
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    @DanBron I take your point. SE requires that the asker make a substantial effort to find an answer and share the results. As you point out, sometimes that's going to be a fruitless effort. But a big part of the rationale is to weed out questions that are "just mindless social fun", also expressed in the help center as "you should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face." A substantial research effort is helpful to people trying to answer the question, but it's also a practical demonstration that the asker is committed to the question.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Nov 17, 2018 at 18:34
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    @DanBron In this question I don't even see that the asker tried a Google search and reported the results. Surely we can reasonably expect that much prior effort.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Nov 17, 2018 at 18:35

4 Answers 4


I found a reference that predates the Up movie by a good eight years, although I'm sure there must be older usages out there somewhere.

In a 2001 Usenet post to the alt.fashion newsgroup, user Michele317 says:

on a fashion note, he's refusing to wear what the vet calls an 'elizabethan collar' and what i call 'the cone of shame': that plastic lampshade thing. i took him to the vet yesterday and found out his runny eye was due to a tiny scratch in his cornea. i decorated the cone with stickers, and removed the gauze tie and replaced it with a jaunty ribbon, but all to no avail. and a massive thanks to everyone who told me dog accessory websites... so much cute stuff out there!


Cone of shame goes back a ways. Cone of shame is a regional vernacular, which means it's a term not commonly used outside a particular area. I know it had been used around where i live since the 90s. These terms can go national or international through proper exposure though and they stop being regional and become common slang. CoS is similar to Trash Panda which wasn't widely used until recently, TP became popular because of the internet though where as CoS was made popular because of a movie.

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    This answer would be far more useful if the particular area was identified.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Jan 12, 2019 at 21:22

Cone of shame was used in our region, upper midwest USA Minnesota, in the early 90's. I think references came before then also, some in comedic acts or daytime television.

That previous comment reply about the cone of silence being a Get Smart sourced reference is also wrong, it showed up in Dune before that, and possibly sooner in other literature (like up to a decade sooner). Dune and Get Smart came out the same year, but the published Dune was written long before publishing and the first episode with the cone of silence was not the first episode in the series.

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    I believe the pilot episode of Get Smart had a cone of silence. (I would count the pilot as the first episode.) As you noted, the term was used in other things before Dune and Get Smart, but I think it's pretty likely the term became widely known to the general public because of Get Smart.
    – nnnnnn
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 0:52

According to wikipedia and knowyoumeme.com, the term was first used in the movie "up."


The 2009 animated film Up coined the colloquial name "cone of shame" for the collars, which feature as a minor plot point.

And knowyourmeme.com:

The Cone of Shame is a meme that originates from the 2009 Pixar movie UP. In it, a golden retriever by the name of Dug is placed in a medical device called an Elizabethian Collar as a punishment by his pack.

  • Yep, I was remembering it from a movie, and "Up" was likely the one. (And, of course, "cone of silence" comes from the TV show "Get Smart".)
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 16, 2018 at 16:57
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    The Wikipedia reference is no longer correct, as that particular sentence was deleted from the page the same day this answer was posted due to its inaccuracy. Commented Jan 12, 2019 at 21:48

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