The “dog days of summer.” What does the term mean?

Hi, friends and readers:

It’s so hot during the day in Florida right now. Most days I don’t even venture outside until the sun sinks low in the west and a breeze starts to blow off the Gulf of Mexico.

Ever heard the term “dog days of summer”? The “dog days,” I always thought, were those summer days so devastatingly hot that even dogs would lie around on the asphalt, panting. But no.

Many people today use the phrase to mean something like that—but originally, the phrase actually had nothing to do with dogs, or even with the lazy days of summer. Instead, it turns out, the dog days refer to the dog star, Sirius, and its position in the heavens.

To the Greeks and Romans, the “dog days” occurred around the day when Sirius appeared to rise just before the sun, in late July. They referred to these days as the hottest time of the year, a period that could bring fever, or even catastrophe.

You learn something new every day.