What is the meaning of "no dogs to speak of" in the following sentence:

There are no dogs to speak of, every animal is equal.

Does it mean "no to speak of dogs, every animal is equal"?

What is the difference between "no dogs to speak of" and "no(not) to speak of dogs"?


There are no dogs to speak of; every animal is equal.

to speak of indicates something or someone noteworthy. For example, if one dog had some special features or ability, it would be noteworthy, or something to speak of.

In your example, there are no dogs that are noteworthy. Therefore, in a basic sense, they are all equal, at least to the extent they are being judged.

  • I have seen these questions and answers on the Yahoo site. ((((( What is the meaning of "not to speak of" ? It means the same as "not to mention" or "let alone" or "never mind" and it is a phrase to emphasise something you dislike. I did not like her dress, not to speak of her ghastly shoes. I didn't like her dress, never mind her shoes. I didn't like the school, not to speak of the teachers. )))) What is the difference between "no dogs to speak of" and "no(not) to speak of dogs" ?
    – user22046
    Sep 15 '17 at 1:32
  • 1
    "not to speak of" is a literal interpretation, some kind of speech is involved. to speak of is idiomatic.
    – user3169
    Sep 15 '17 at 1:43
  • I do not know what to ask. Anyway, when I see a slight change in the order of the words such as "no dogs to speak of" and "no to speak of dogs," , they both seem to have the same meaning. It may be because Korean does not change the meaning even if the order of the words in a sentence changes. For example, "I는 dogs를 love " = "dogs를 I는 love" = "dogs를 love I는" = " love dogs를 I는" etc. In Korean, all have the same meaning. but, In English, even if only the order of the words in a sentence is changed, the interpretation is different, and I feel great difficulty in interpreting.
    – user22046
    Sep 15 '17 at 2:02
  • But check where the negating word is. In "no dogs to speak of", no negates the noun dogs. In "not to speak of dogs", not negates the verb to speak. Also, idioms can not be interpreted literally (nor translated). You just have to know what they mean.
    – user3169
    Sep 15 '17 at 4:42

"No X to speak of" is an idiomatic expression in English. Idiomatic expressions often cannot be understood just by reading the individual words. You have to memorize each one as you see them.

Other examples related to this idiom:

Her new book is nothing to speak of.

= I didn't think her new book was very good.

You will be surprised -- this chocolate cake contains no eggs to speak of. Instead I used applesauce.

= the cake contains no (or very few) eggs.

The new bill caused upset in many universities and the government, not to speak of all the students affected.

= additionally, the students were possibly even more upset than the universities or the government.

All of these relate to the idea of speaking about something, but each has a slightly different meaning, which (again) you can only learn by memorization. The more you practice English, the more comfortable you will get.

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