What does the idiom "be in the doghouse" mean?

You are wondering about the meaning of the phrase be in the doghouse, maybe you heard it in a TV show, movie or theater play. Although this idiom is not used very often, it enriches your capacity of expression and strengthens communication. In which case is the expression be in the doghouse used and what is its meaning?

Meaning of "be in the doghouse"


The idiom ‘be in the doghouse’ is used when someone is in a situation that is seen as negative or unfavorable due to their own actions. It is typically used to describe a situation in which a person is being punished or made to feel unwelcome because of something that has happened. It often implies that the person has done something wrong, and so is on the receiving end of some form of scolding or reprimand.


The origin of the idiom ‘be in the doghouse’ is unclear, though it has been in use since at least the late 19th century. It may have its roots in a common belief that dogs were kept as pets in order to protect a home, and that when they misbehaved they were locked in the doghouse as punishment. This belief has been around since at least the Middle Ages, so the phrase may be based on this idea.


There are many situations in which the idiom ‘be in the doghouse’ can be used. It is commonly used in a situation when someone has done something wrong, and so is being made to feel unwelcome or punished for their actions. It can also be used to describe a situation in which someone is being scolded for something they have done, or when a relationship has been damaged due to someone’s actions.

Example Sentences

  • I’m in the doghouse with my boss after missing that important meeting!
  • John is in the doghouse with his girlfriend after forgetting their anniversary.
  • My parents put me in the doghouse for staying out late last night.

The meanings of the words in the "be in the doghouse" idiom

The universal role of idioms

"Kill two birds with one stone" is an English idiom that means to accomplish two things with a single action. In French, the similar idiom is "Faire d'une pierre deux coups," which translates to "To kill two birds with one stone." This idiom highlights the efficiency of completing two tasks with one action.


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