double dog dare ya. Simply to double down, up the ante in response to a dare. Or to mock, to deceive, literally “dog-dog,” hence double-dog.
Michael Quinion found a citation in Chapman’s Dictionary of American Slang dating this turn of phrase to the 1940’s. “Mr Chamberlain also mentions several other forms. As well as the immemorial I dare you, he gives I dog dare you, I double dog dare you, I black dog dare you, and the ultimate challenge that must surely have been impossible to pass up without appearing totally chicken: I double black dog dare you.”
The use of the double dog dare is wonderfully vivid in the film A Christmas Story, based on radio pioneer Jean Shepard’s memoirs. Here the boys up the ante to a triple-dog-dare. Click the sound icon to listen if you are interested.
We still use this phrase. Dr. Ame Wilson of Ohio University , a dramaturgist, commented on her belly-button piercing: “My students double-dog dared me.” So of course she did it.
1. Quinion, Michael. 1999. Double-Dog Dare You. World Wide Words. Accessed Dec 11 2007 from http:// www. worldwidewords. org/ qa/ qa-dou2.htm.
2. Cohen, Israel. 2000. Re: BIN (May) Never Mean BEN! --> Idioms. Discussion of Hebrew Grammar and Etymology. Accessed Sep. 19 2001 from http:// www. shamash.org/ listarchives/ heblang/ 000220 .
4. Clark, Bob. 1983. A Christmas Story. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Nov 18.
5. Shulman, Polly. 2003. Cirque Du Soliel: Aiming Too High? New York Times, May 4, 1, 10.