i hear mine older coworkers usage this idiom/phrase occasionally. That seems perhaps to be a humorous means to get out of a conversation. Even as a aboriginal music-from-a.com speaker, I"ve never identified the exact situation you would usage this phrase. It virtually sounds like it may have actually once been a punchline to a hoax in a movie or something.

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I"m curious what is the specific meaning/usage the this phrase/idiom? wherein does it originate?


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Wikipedia actually has an article dedicated to this phrase. That says:

The earliest shown publication is the 1866 Dion Boucicault play Flying Scud in which a character knowingly breezes previous a challenging situation saying, "Excuse me Mr. Quail, i can"t stop; I"ve acquired to check out a man about a dog." In a listing because that a 1939 renewal on the NBC Radio routine America"s shed Plays, Time magazine observed the the expression is the play"s "claim come fame".

Wiktionary adds:

The most typical variation is to "see a man around a horse". Virtually any noun can be substituted as a method of giving the hearer a hint around one"s objective in departing. The inversion to "see a dog around a man" eliminates any kind of lingering uncertainty about whether the hearer is being put off. A much shorter variant is to "see a man".

As come the exact instance in which you would use this phrase, it suggests:

Used together an excuse for leaving without offering the real reason (especially if the factor is to go to the toilet, or to have actually a drink)

Back to Wikipedia again,

During prohibition in the united States, the phrase was most generally used in relationship to the usage or purchase of alcoholic beverages.

World large Words has additional info:

This has actually been a advantageous (and usefully vague) excuse because that absenting oneself from company for around 150 years, despite the genuine reason because that slipping away has actually not constantly been the same. <...> From other references at the moment over there were 3 possibilities: 1) essential to visit the loo <...> 2) he was in urgent require of a restorative drink, presumed alcoholic; or 3) he had a an in similar way urgent need to visit his mistress.

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Of these factors <...> the 2nd became the most typical sense during the ban period. Now that society’s conventions have actually shifted come the suggest where none of these factors need cause much remark, the energy of the phrase is greatly diminished and it is most frequently used in a facetious sense, if at all.