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I was watching a movie called The book of Henry. One day Henry's mother goes to work late. Her manager told her, "Late again!", and she replied, "Dog ate my car." So, I heard about Dog ate my homework, but I have never heard about that excuse.

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So, I heard about Dog ate my homework, but I have never heard about that excuse.

That's the joke exactly. "The dog ate my homework" is an implausible excuse. Everyone knows that it's probably a lie, and that most likely the student never did their homework, but doesn't want to say so.

"The dog ate my car" is an absurdly implausible excuse. It means "I don't have a good reason for being late, or I'm not willing to give you one". But telling that to your boss is rude and confrontational in a way that telling a completely unbelievable lie, strangely, is not.

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    I think the last sentence depends a lot on tone. You could easily say “I don’t have a good excuse for being late” in an apologetic tone—then you’re not being confrontational, you’re acknowledging that you messed up and taking responsibility for it instead of trying to make excuses. “I’m not going to give you one” is harder to use non-confrontationally, verbatim, but something along the lines of “it’s a personal matter and it should never have been allowed to interfere with work so I’m sorry” expresses the same sense.
    – KRyan
    Mar 7 at 14:45
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    Likewise, “dog ate my car” could be very rude, depending on tone—if said confrontationally, it says “I don’t even respect you enough to come up with a convincing lie.” It’s a challenge, it all but asks “what are you going to do about it?” That could be a dramatic escalation of the situation. But a light, conciliatory, self-deprecating tone, makes it clear that you’re not doing that, and just trying to inject some levity into the situation (which may still be inappropriate depending on how significant your lateness is).
    – KRyan
    Mar 7 at 14:48
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    @KRyan, if I remember the movie (and I try to forget, it is an astonishingly bad movie), the mom was at odds with and dismissive of her boss, so the confrontational "what are you going to do about it" tone is the accurate interpretation for this situation.
    – Seth R
    Mar 8 at 17:12
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    Having seen friends whose dogs ate their headphones, cables, basket, and other items, I wouldn't say that "the dog ate my homework" is implausible.
    – Nayuki
    Mar 9 at 16:55
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    "Dog ate my homework" has happened quite literally in my family... but it's still a bad excuse!
    – Law29
    Mar 9 at 18:06
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'[The] Dog ate my (whatever)' is a generic lame excuse, another way of saying 'I have no excuse'. I was late to be married because the dog ate my wedding suit (really I was drunk the night before and overslept). Maybe the boss doesn't really care about her being late, and it's a joke between them. Maybe not. I have not seen the film.

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I think that it is a mix between "The dog ate my homework" and "My car broke down", which are both cliché fake excuses. The other answers mention the first one, but I think that the second one plays a role in the joke, too.

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  • Unless your car was built in Great Britain. Then the second excuse is perfectly valid. Mar 7 at 22:02
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    Kind of like the joke phrase "Does the Pope sh#t in the woods?" which is a mélange of two common cliché phrases "Does a bear sh#t in the woods?" and "Is the Pope Catholic?", two obviously true questions that are used in equivalent circumstances (in this case, a humorous way of saying "Clearly, yes" to someone else's question). Mar 8 at 21:07
  • @RockPaperLz-MaskitorCasket - Oi! My Ford B-Max is super-reliable, I'll have you know. OK, the engine was made in Spain, I believe the bodywork and chassis might actually be German and the on-board computer is almost certainly Japanese, but it was built (well, assembled, at least) in Great Britain!
    – Spratty
    Mar 9 at 9:30
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Dog ate my homework is a typical excuse used for someone not doing their homework.

In this case “dog ate my car” it is just a joke as obviously a dog cannot eat someone’s car.

In other words the person was most likely late for something. Or couldn’t drive to a particular place and this is just a funny excuse.

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    "obviously a dog cannot eat someone's car" You sure about that? Mar 8 at 20:09
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    As a puppy, my dog ate an outside wooden chair, and the outside unit of a heatpump. A car would be the logical target when he was fully grown.
    – Criggie
    Mar 9 at 10:47

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