Student Dictionary

One entry found for dog days.
Main Entry: dog days
Function: noun plural
Etymology: translation of Latin dies caniculares, from canicula, literally, "little dog," from canis "dog"; so called from the fact that they begin at the time when the Dog Star rises with or near the sun --related to CANINE
: the hot and humid period of summer between early July and early September
Word History The "dog" in the expression dog days is not a real animal but a star in the sky. Dog days is a translation of the Latin phrase dies caniculares. The ancient Romans applied this phrase to the hottest days of the summer when the star Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, comes up over the horizon at about the same time as the sun. Sirius got its name from an ancient Greek word meaning "burning" or "scorching." The Romans often referred to Sirius as canicula, literally, "little dog," because it is the principal star in the star group known as Canis Major ("greater dog"), which was thought to have the shape of a dog.

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