Correcting my limitless lack of knowledge, one post at a time.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Well, I think I know what this one means, and if I'm right, I've had a couple of occasions to feel like one lately. I think that in our modern parlance, its something akin to a gofer. It is the loyal, trustworthy, relied upon and yet taken for granted servant who attends to things so that we don't have to. Mothers, I think, are often dogsbodies, because the phrase implies something beyond mere servitude and refers a bit to our fleshly bodily life. There is something of our physical being, at least in the sense of our physical presence implied. I think the sentence, "We need a few warm bodies," implies something of the same thing, though maybe without the 'fidelity' that dogsbody represents.
But maybe I have it completely wrong. Let's see.
Oh, man--not the British Royal Navy again! But yes, a dogsbody is a junior officer in this military force, and by extension a person who does the grunt work. Apparently, peas and eggs boiled in a bag together were a staple of the early 19th century British navy. It wasn't exactly caviar, and, as is the way with the offensive, soon enough becomes a descriptive noun for someone you intend to disparage. 'Sack of shit', for instance. No one seems to know how the unloved staple got the name dogsbody, though some think it was the shape of the bag. In any case, as pejoratives do, it managed to outgrow its naval usage and become a general term for, yes, a gofer, in Britspeak around the 1930s.