Green’s Dictionary of Slang

doghouse n.

1. (also doghole) any small structure that seems to resemble a dog kennel.

[UK]Dryden Juvenal III 47: You hire a darksom Doghole by the year.
[UK]J. Dunton Bumography 52: From Dog-hole of Lodging one Morning I sally’d.
[US]H.B. Fearon Sketches of America 191: ‘The Fountain Inn’ is a miserable log-house, or what you would call a dog-hole.
[US]Whip & Satirist of NY & Brooklyn (NY) 23 July n.p.: We [...] found ourselves in a dog hole of a place .
[UK]Egan Life of an Actor 105: Is it for this wretched place [...] that I have left London? Is it in such a doghole as this that I can expect to realize any fame?
[Aus][A. Harris] (con. 1820s) Settlers & Convicts 94: The wretched half-frantic women [...] staggered away to any doghole where they could find a temporary lurking-place to sleep.
[US]E.K. Wightman letter 21 Oct. in Longacre From Antietam to Fort Fisher (1985) 66: I put the letters in my pocket [...] and, crawling into my dog-house, leaned on one elbow and ruminated.
[US]H.E. Hamblen General Manager’s Story 43: I’ll have to drop off a flag, or they’ll git our doghouse [i.e. caboose, on a freight train].
[UK]St James’ Gaz. (London) 21 Feb. 16/1: Poverty Row [...] The poor themselves now seem to be wakening up to the necessity of better abodes [...] judging by their ’dogholes’.
[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ You Can Search Me 83: Well, if you feel tempted to give the old gentleman the double cross and tell me, why I’ll lock myself up in the doghouse till he gives you the starting pistol.
[US]San Bernadino Co. Sun (CA) 25 Mar. 41/1: Dog house — a small rented garage.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 64: Dog House. – A railroad caboose. A small garage in a residential neighbourhood, often one owned by a householder, and rented by a gang of automobile thieves in which to store their stolen cars until pursuit and discovery seem unlikely.
[UK] (ref. to 1920s) L. Duncan Over the Wall 132: Owing to the extreme cold the men were compelled to [...] huddle around one of the pot-bellied stoves inside the ‘Doghouse’. [Ibid.] 275: ‘The Dog-House’ [...] was a very long, low, ugly building, which was originally constructed as a place for recreation.
[US]O. Ferguson ‘Vocabulary for Lakes, [etc.]’ AS XIX:2 110: But doghouse, for any kind of Seamen’s Home on shore, surely belongs to seamen.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 71: dog house A storage place for stolen automobile; a toilet; a privy; [...] a watch tower.
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.
[US]‘Tom Pendleton’ Iron Orchard (1967) 392: Jim McNeely was exhausted [...] and sat on a bit-box in the dog-house with his head in his hands.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 121: The doghouse that is a kennel or other small enclosure led American soldiers from the time of the Indian Wars to describe their tents as doghouses, dog tents, and, the prevailing term today, pup tents.
[US]J. Stahl I, Fatty 166: An older [...] ‘bellhop’ [...] wheeled in a doghouse of rotgut.
[US]W. Keyser ‘Carny Lingo’ in 🌐 Dog House — An enclosed control booth occupied by the ride jock.

2. an unpleasant place, irrespective of size.

[UK]Caldedonian Mercury 12 Aug. 1/2: I answered that I had never seen London. ‘Never seen it [...] Then you have never seen one of the finest sights [...] Paris is but a Dog-hole to it’.
[UK]Chester Courant 25 Dec. 3/1: This execrable dog-hole of a city, is inhabited by a set of lazy wretches.

3. (US Und.) a prison; a solitary-confinement cell.

[UK]Derby Mercury 22 July 1/1: Clapping Dr Leighton in irons, the carried him [...] into Newgate, where they thrust him into a lonesome doghole full of Rats and Mice.
[US]Dodge City Times (KS) 16 June 5/3: he ordered the prisoner sent back to the doghouse.
[US]Dodge City Times (KS) 15 Sept. in Miller & Snell Why the West was Wild 278: She [...] was finally landed in the dog house by the self same Joe [...] When Mat found herself in this unhallowed place, she ‘At once set up so wild a yell, Within that dark and narrow cell’.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks 32/1: Dog house, the dungeon (no light, practically in darkness) (prison).
[US]‘Bill O. Lading’ You Chirped a Chinful!! n.p.: Dog House Guardhouse.

4. (orig. US) a double-bass; a bass-player.

[US]G. McKnight Eng. Words and Their Background 45: dog-house: bass violin.
[US]Hecht & Fowler Great Magoo 74: Referring to the absent and libidinous bass fiddler. Where’s the dog house?
[US]Pic (N.Y.) Mar. 7: slap me some fire on the dog house. grip that git box. — getting hot on the bull fiddle and the guitar.
[US]J. Evans Halo in Blood (1988) 95: The car radio gave me ‘Whispering,’ very softly, with a lot of strings, a growling doghouse and a sobbing trumpet.
[US]R.G. Reisner Jazz Titans 20: ‘Doghouse’ is the old slang term for the cumbersome instrument.

5. (US prison) a watchtower.

[US]G. Milburn ‘Convicts’ Jargon’ in AS VI:6 438: dog house, n. A watch tower on the prison wall.

6. in fig. use, a place of disgrace or punishment; sometimes spec. of marriage; usu. as in the doghouse

[US]N. Algren Neon Wilderness (1986) 208: The old man had stayed out of the doghouse.
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ Cop This Lot 39: A neon sign in the shape of a dog’s head announced ‘Dog House Bar’. Dennis laughed. ‘Just the joint fer you two blokes,’ he said.
[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 21: I’m out of the doghouse.

7. (US prison) the protective custody unit in a prison.

[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 49: Dog House A protective custody unit.

8. (US campus) a romantic relationship.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr. 3: doghouse – dating or romantic involvement: ‘Richard is currently in the doghouse with Jane’.

9. (N.Z. prison) the prison guard house.

[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 58/2: dog house n. the guard house.

In phrases

in the doghouse [SAmE doghouse, a dog kennel; i.e. in disgrace and so consigned to the dog’s kennel rather than one’s own home]

(orig. US) in trouble, out of favour.

[US] ‘Und. “Lingo” Brought Up-to-Date’ L.A. Times 8 Nov. K3: DOG-HOUSE: In disfavor.
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 13 Dec. [synd. col.] Ambassador Joe Kennedy, regardless of the denials, is in the dog-house.
[US]F. Brown Fabulous Clipjoint (1949) 24: And if you left, and Madge didn’t like it, she’d blame me and we’d both be in the doghouse.
[US]A.J. Liebling ‘Days with the Daydaybay’ Just Enough Liebling (2004) 192: Being in the doghouse, he had already been condemned to some menial task.
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ Gone Fishin’ 39: Be in the doghouse, won’t you? You haven’t been home all day.
[UK]C. Dexter Last Bus to Woodstock 34: ‘You in the dog house again?’ ‘I’m always in the bloody dog house.’.
[Aus]B. Humphries Traveller’s Tool 35: No official is going to put the finger on some poor bastard who’s already in the doghouse.
[US]M. Ribowsky Don’t Look Back 270: [R]umors spread that Paige was somehow in the manager’s doghouse.
[UK]Guardian G2 28 July 2: William need say only one word – Diana – and the press would be back in the dog house.
[UK]D. Mitchell Black Swan Green 16: Why I was in the doghouse was clear enough.
[UK]Sun. Times Mag. 19 Dec. 63/1: He himself may be spending time in the doghouse.
[Aus](con. 1943) G.S. Manson Irish Fandango [ebook] Vida had him in the doghouse.
[US]New Yorker 15 Apr. 31/2: He was in the dog house, Elizabeth was not pleased.
[Ire]L. McInerney Blood Miracles 125: ‘I’m in the doghouse’.