dog’s dinner

A poor job; a mess.

Editor’s note: In one of those moments of delightful synchronicity, shortly after looking up this phrase, I happened to see my colleague Rachel describe something as “a dog’s breakfast”, which turns out to be synonymous.

For some reason I am really charmed by these two phrases, especially since no one says “a dog’s lunch”. I’m adding these to the list of things to start saying — maybe they’ll catch on in the US?

The occupant looks to be in his early thirties, has a gelled mullet, an off-the-peg suit from a mid-range high-street outfitter, and is making a dog’s dinner of wrapping a big box of Scalextric.

Definition from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved. (via Wordnik)


  • A noisy argument.
  • A minor physical fight.

[Britain, Australia, Cockney rhyming slang] 

Etymology: Cockney Rhyming slang: “Barney Rubble” → “trouble”. From the character Barney Rubble on The Flintstones.

Dad went to bed. He’s sleeping in the spare room at the moment, ‘cause of his back, though Mum told me it’s ‘cause he tosses and turns so much. It’s probably both. They had a right barney this evening, actually over the dinner table.

Definition from Wiktionary


Beer mixed with a soft drink, such as carbonated lemonade, ginger beer, ginger ale, or apple juice or orange juice. The proportions of the two ingredients are adjusted to taste, usually half-and-half.

“Me and Swinyard were playin’ Asteroids at the Black Swan yesterday evenin’, right. Wilcox comes in, actin’ like King Hard Knock, sayin’ nothin’, then he goes and drops his fag in my shandy.

Definition from Wikipedia