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.
[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].
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.
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.

2. an unpleasant place, irrespective of size.

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.

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 19: 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’.

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.
[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.
[US]New Yorker 15 Apr. 31/2: He was in the dog house, Elizabeth was not pleased.