Lap dog
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Reader question:

What is a lap dog, as in "you're just his lap dog"?

My comments:

A lap dog is a dog, a small pet dog, small enough to sit on its owner's lap.

And petted enough, of course, to be allowed to do so. The lap dog is docile1 and obedient. In other words it doesn't snarl2 at its master, let alone bite.

That's lap dog as a dog, and a good dog it is too.

Lap dog can be a person, someone who's totally subservient3 to his master. The lap dog as a person, however, carries derogative4 connotations. To label a person a lap dog is similar to calling them a poodle (another docile dog with curly hair – if you're somebody's poodle, you always do what the other person tells you to do), a lackey5 (a manservant who follows his master around, doing what he's told) or, in Mao's terminology6, a running dog (The Great Chairman used to call his enemies "the running dog of imperialism").

Or a yes man (who answers "yes" to every command).

Or Sancho Panza, if you really want to sound hip7 and up to date. That's what commentators8 have been calling Sarah Palin, the running mate of John McCain for the White House. George Will first mocked Palin as McCain's "female Sancho Panza" (See example below). It stuck like a lipstick9 (see my previous column Lipstick on the Campaign Trail, September 23) and the term has since been picked up by commentators everywhere. Sancho Panza is Don Quixote's servant, body guard and apprentice10.

Don Quixote?

Ah well, never mind. Here I'll give one recent media example of each and every term, except the running dog (no-one seems to be using the term any more - let's face it, nobody will put it better than The Great Helmsman did ^-^).

1. lap dog:

This week, the media continued to bend over backwards11 to repeat whatever narrative12 McCain wants them to. He even refurnished his airplane with a VIP section for the most obedient reporters.

Top McCain aide Mark Salter said "'only the good reporters' would get to sit in the specially-configured section for interviews. 'You'll have to earn it,' he said." So how can these reporters "earn" a seat? Never challenge the Senator.

- The Lap Dog Express,, July 05, 2008.

2. poodle:

To be or not to be a poodle. That was the question and U.S. President George W Bush answered that Britain's Tony Blair was a faithful friend, but nobody's pet.

"The prime minister is sometimes, perhaps unfairly, characterized in Britain as your poodle," began the questioner at a joint13 appearance by the two leaders Friday at the White House. "I was wondering if that's the way you may see your relationship?"

Blair broke in: "Don't answer 'yes' to that question," he mockingly admonished14 Bush, prompting laughter.

However, the U.S. leader was visibly not amused by the question.

Glowering15, Bush responded that Blair was a strong, capable leader who "made a decision because he wanted to do a duty to secure the people of Great Britain."

- Bush says Blair isn't his poodle,, November 13, 2004.

3. lackey:

If one looks in depth into McCain's statement on foreign affairs, they reveal how buffoonish16 he truly is. He has often confused Sunni Muslims with Shi'ite Muslims and has had to be reminded of the differences not once but several times by his lackey Joe Lieberman. He's had to be told that Iran is not training future members of Al Qaeda.

- John McCain: A Buffoon17,, October 3, 2008.

4. yes man:

It might be easier to have a yes-man or -woman as vice18 president, but with so much at stake for the country and the world, such a person might allow a troublesome decision to go unchallenged.

- Picking vice president is a matter of ethics19,, August 1, 2008.

5. Sancho Panza:

In the closing days of his 10-year quest for the presidency20, McCain finds it galling21 that Barack Obama is winning the first serious campaign he has ever run against a Republican. Before Tuesday night's uneventful event, gall22 was fueling what might be the McCain-Palin campaign's closing argument. It is less that Obama has bad ideas than that Obama is a bad person.

This, McCain and his female Sancho Panza say, is demonstrated by bad associations Obama had in Chicago, such as with William Ayers, the unrepentant terrorist. But the McCain-Palin charges have come just as the Obama campaign is benefiting from a mass mailing it is not paying for. Many millions of American households are gingerly opening envelopes containing reports of the third-quarter losses in their 401(k) and other retirement23 accounts -- telling each household its portion of the nearly $2 trillion that Americans' accounts have recently shed. In this context, the McCain-Palin campaign's attempt to get Americans to focus on Obama's Chicago associations seem surreal -- or, as a British politician once said about criticism he was receiving, "like being savaged24 by a dead sheep."

- George F. Will: For McCain, what if this is as good as it gets?, October 8, 2008. 


1 docile s8lyp     
  • Circus monkeys are trained to be very docile and obedient.马戏团的猴子训练得服服贴贴的。
  • He is a docile and well-behaved child.他是个温顺且彬彬有礼的孩子。
2 snarl 8FAzv     
  • At the seaside we could hear the snarl of the waves.在海边我们可以听见波涛的咆哮。
  • The traffic was all in a snarl near the accident.事故发生处附近交通一片混乱。
3 subservient WqByt     
  • He was subservient and servile.他低声下气、卑躬屈膝。
  • It was horrible to have to be affable and subservient.不得不强作欢颜卖弄风骚,真是太可怕了。
4 derogative 28685ca64f535b09b8b4bb69c3f9d936     
  • The duality analysis reveals that Zionism is both favorable and derogative to the Israeli-Palestinian peace. 犹太复国主义的两重性对以巴和平产生的影响也是双重的,利弊兼有。 来自互联网
  • The explorative study its semantic features and the changes of its derogative and appreciative meanings. 对体态成语的语义特征和语义褒贬变化做了探索性的研究。 来自互联网
5 lackey 49Hzp     
  • I'm not staying as a paid lackey to act as your yes-man.我不要再做拿钱任你使唤的应声虫。
  • Who would have thought that Fredo would become a lackey of women?谁能料到弗烈特竟堕落成女人脚下的哈叭狗?
6 terminology spmwD     
  • He particularly criticized the terminology in the document.他特别批评了文件中使用的术语。
  • The article uses rather specialized musical terminology.这篇文章用了相当专业的音乐术语。
7 hip 1dOxX     
  • The thigh bone is connected to the hip bone.股骨连着髋骨。
  • The new coats blouse gracefully above the hip line.新外套在臀围线上优美地打着褶皱。
8 commentators 14bfe5fe312768eb5df7698676f7837c     
n.评论员( commentator的名词复数 );时事评论员;注释者;实况广播员
  • Sports commentators repeat the same phrases ad nauseam. 体育解说员翻来覆去说着同样的词语,真叫人腻烦。
  • Television sports commentators repeat the same phrases ad nauseam. 电视体育解说员说来说去就是那么几句话,令人厌烦。 来自《简明英汉词典》
9 lipstick o0zxg     
  • Taking out her lipstick,she began to paint her lips.她拿出口红,开始往嘴唇上抹。
  • Lipstick and hair conditioner are cosmetics.口红和护发素都是化妆品。
10 apprentice 0vFzq     
  • My son is an apprentice in a furniture maker's workshop.我的儿子在一家家具厂做学徒。
  • The apprentice is not yet out of his time.这徒工还没有出徒。
11 backwards BP9ya     
  • He turned on the light and began to pace backwards and forwards.他打开电灯并开始走来走去。
  • All the girls fell over backwards to get the party ready.姑娘们迫不及待地为聚会做准备。
12 narrative CFmxS     
  • He was a writer of great narrative power.他是一位颇有记述能力的作家。
  • Neither author was very strong on narrative.两个作者都不是很善于讲故事。
13 joint m3lx4     
  • I had a bad fall,which put my shoulder out of joint.我重重地摔了一跤,肩膀脫臼了。
  • We wrote a letter in joint names.我们联名写了封信。
14 admonished b089a95ea05b3889a72a1d5e33963966     
v.劝告( admonish的过去式和过去分词 );训诫;(温和地)责备;轻责
  • She was admonished for chewing gum in class. 她在课堂上嚼口香糖,受到了告诫。
  • The teacher admonished the child for coming late to school. 那个孩子迟到,老师批评了他。 来自《简明英汉词典》
15 glowering glowering     
v.怒视( glower的现在分词 )
  • The boy would not go, but stood at the door glowering at his father. 那男孩不肯走,他站在门口对他父亲怒目而视。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Then he withdrew to a corner and sat glowering at his wife. 然后他溜到一个角落外,坐在那怒视着他的妻子。 来自辞典例句
16 buffoonish f8042f77255aa4f730a0f7547b617626     
17 buffoon UsJzg     
  • They pictured their manager as a buffoon.他们把经理描绘成一个小丑。
  • That politician acted like a buffoon during that debate.这个政客在那场辩论中真是丑态百出。
18 vice NU0zQ     
  • He guarded himself against vice.他避免染上坏习惯。
  • They are sunk in the depth of vice.他们堕入了罪恶的深渊。
19 ethics Dt3zbI     
  • The ethics of his profession don't permit him to do that.他的职业道德不允许他那样做。
  • Personal ethics and professional ethics sometimes conflict.个人道德和职业道德有时会相互抵触。
20 presidency J1HzD     
  • Roosevelt was elected four times to the presidency of the United States.罗斯福连续当选四届美国总统。
  • Two candidates are emerging as contestants for the presidency.两位候选人最终成为总统职位竞争者。
21 galling galling     
  • It was galling to have to apologize to a man she hated. 令人恼火的是得向她憎恶的男人道歉。
  • The insolence in the fellow's eye was galling. 这家伙的傲慢目光令人恼怒。 来自英汉文学 - 嘉莉妹妹
22 gall jhXxC     
  • It galled him to have to ask for a loan.必须向人借钱使他感到难堪。
  • No gall,no glory.没有磨难,何来荣耀。
23 retirement TWoxH     
  • She wanted to enjoy her retirement without being beset by financial worries.她想享受退休生活而不必为金钱担忧。
  • I have to put everything away for my retirement.我必须把一切都积蓄起来以便退休后用。
24 savaged 337d0bda5a4629deea7568b5d460285d     
(动物)凶狠地攻击(或伤害)( savage的过去式和过去分词 ); 残害; 猛烈批评; 激烈抨击
  • The horse threw its rider to the ground and savaged him. 那马将骑马者摔在地上,乱踢他。
  • The drink had savaged him. 酒使他变得野蛮。