Some People Don’t Know What Curb Your Dog Means
My lovely wife Sara is smart, hard-working, and infinitely patient with me. I am truly blessed to have met her.
Unfortunately, a by-product of her good looks is the fact that she can often use them to hide her lack of vocabulary. Over the few years that I’ve known her, dozens of words (some of which are admittedly obscure) have escaped her. One of those words is curb, as in “Curb Your Dog.”
The word curb owes it’s existence to the French word courbe, which refers to a curved piece of wood or iron. In the 1200′s, a courbe was used in conjunction with a chain to control the movement of the family steed (steed, just in case you’re wondering, is essentially a synonym for “horse”).
As a result of this common use, courbe came to be synonymous with control or restraint. For example:
In the old days, if you wanted to keep someone from falling into the well in the backyard, you would build a little brick wall all the way around the hole. This brick wall came to be known as a “curb” because it restrained people from falling in the well.
Fast forward to the 20th century, and instead of talking about the curbs on a well, we’re talking about a curb on a street. Street curbs are designed to keep cars from driving on sidewalks…and this is where the confusion comes in. My wife thought that “curb your dog” literally meant to make sure your dog goes to the bathroom on or near the street curb. This is definitely a common misconception, as other people I know (who shall remain nameless) were uncertain of the meaning as well.
For all of the people who don’t know, a sign that says “curb your dog” means “control/restrain your dog.” More literally, it means “please don’t let your dog poop on this thing our sign is attached to.”