One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1usually dagsNZ A lock of wool matted with dung hanging from the hindquarters of a sheep.
- ‘The fleece is so cut that the wool around the base of the legs and backside runs in a continuous line, from which it is easy to strip the dags, the stains and the prickles.’
- ‘Besides reducing methane emissions, condensed tannins have other animal-related benefits, including improved milk yields, increased liveweight gain, decreased internal parasite burden and reduced bloat, dags and fly strike.’
- ‘Farmers and farmers-hands may regularly cut off the dags to keep their sheep clean.’
2NZ informal An entertainingly eccentric person; a character.‘your father must have been a bit of a dag’
- ‘Although it is hard to play favourites with such a loveable bunch of dags, I must confess to preferring mum Janelle to the rest.’
3informal A staid or socially inept person.
- ‘Floyd may be a bit of a dag, but he's a pretty nifty player when it comes to badminton!’
- ‘We've all known people like Steve, the likeable dag with big dreams.’
- 3.1 An untidy or dirty-looking person.
Late Middle English (denoting a hanging pointed part of something): possibly related to tag. dag (sense 1 of the noun) dates from the early 17th century; dag (sense 2 of the noun) is a transferred use of English dialect meaning ‘a challenge’.
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