Some People Don’t Know What Curb Your Dog Means

2010 May 21
tags: , ,
by Jason

My lovely wife Sara is smart, hard-working, and infinitely patient with me. I am truly blessed to have met her.

Mike and Sara buy a Rolex

My brother-in-law Mike and my wife Sara. Mike just bought a genuine Rolex from some guy in Battery Park!

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.”

Curb Your Dog sign

My wife didn't understand the meaning of this sign.

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.”

Curb your dog sign tree

Curb your dog means don't let it ruin this little bit of greenery with it's stink.

Questions?

14 Responses leave one →
  1. Mom permalink
    May 21, 2010

    Dear Jason: I have to side with Sara on this one, when I began reading your post I didn’t have a clue what “curb your dog meant.” It must be a NYC term. Thanks for splaining it to me.
    Mommy Moose

  2. May 22, 2010

    While your post is obviously well researched and written, I still disagree. According to the Urban Dictionary “Curb Your Dog” has two meanings — yours and mine.

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=CURB%20YOUR%20DOG

    Ha! Suck it.

  3. Jake permalink
    May 24, 2010

    Can you win an argument by citing Urban Dictionary? Isn’t that one step below citing Wikipedia? I do like the emphasis on the closing point of telling Jason to suck it.

  4. May 28, 2010

    Um, yeah. The Urban Dictionary don’t lie!

  5. May 30, 2010

    With you on the meaning of curb Jason

  6. Sara permalink*
    June 7, 2010

    Whatever, Tom and Jake. You don’t know…

  7. June 7, 2010

    OF COURSE Sara would use a vulgar phrase like “suck it” – her limited lexicon often restricts her verbiage to colloquial fragments. How lamentable…

  8. Jake permalink
    June 18, 2010

    Jason used the word lamentable in a sentence…..he wins the arguement automatically.

  9. Sara permalink*
    July 3, 2010

    I respectfully disagree.

  10. Alex permalink
    July 20, 2010

    Jason used the Urban Dictionary to find the word lamentable, so he loses automatically.

  11. lisa permalink
    October 23, 2010

    You portray your wife to be rather daft. I’d be offended if i were her.

  12. Kirsch permalink
    May 25, 2011

    Jason, I love your post! But, why did you use an apostrophe within “its?” Sara did not. When using the possessive pronoun, consider following Sara’s lead on this. Reserve the apostrophe for your contractions. I don’t know how to include a photograph showing the concrete mason’s interpretation of “curb your dog!” Maybe that’s better left to the imagination.

    Indeed, Urban Dictionary definition #2 is in need of psychological evaluation by experts from the Ministry of Defence, Scotland Yard, and possibly Interpol. My apologies to all who subscribe to this canine skull bashing rubbish.

    Best wishes to all who defend their gardens from acid-wielding unwelcome intruders!

  13. February 13, 2012

    I just recently moved back to the city. This time after 4 years and now with 2 chihuahuas. I too thought it meant to make them go there. After all I am from the south and they are a little used to trees and grass. A lady took it upon herself to yell at me (a lady that didn’t even live there btw) and after I explained I did not know, she continued to complain. Welcome back to NYC I guess!

  14. gregg permalink
    August 7, 2012

    I respectfully submit, that Jason should select his words with due caution as this thread may someday be used against him in a divorce settlement.

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