Spitfires Won the Battle of Britain for a Small Island of Underdog Lovers
The Underdog Myth
Story to date:
David Barker, a famous freemason, allegedly invented the metaphorical concept of humans as underling dogs in a popular poem which, according to legend, he wrote in 1859 and had published in various newspapers. To date, no citation for a single one of these legendary newspaper publications exists in the literature. So we cannot yet ascertain whether or not Barker really is the author. However, the poem in question was posthumously published, in 1876, by a relative, two years after Barker’s death. The poem was anonymously published in The American Freemasons New Monthly Magazine.(1859) Volume 4. No 21 September. On Page 175 is the verse in question:
But for me I never shall pause to ask
Which dog may be in the right,
For my heart will beat while it beats at all,
For the under dog in the fight.’
As others have suggested, the origin of the phrase is most likely related to nautical knot tying. On which note, I unearthed: Bushell, C. (1857) The Rigger’s Guide. Portsmouth. H. Lewis. Page149:
“Hitch the salvage to the gammoning one end over and the other under-dog the ends along the chain and seize them with spunyarn.”
Whatever future etymological research unearths regarding Barker’s alleged penmanship of the ‘Underdog in the Fight’, he did not invent the concept of humans as underdogs. That was done earlier. For example, by Oliver Goldsmith. See Goldsmith, O. (1854 page 186) The Works of Oliver Goldsmith. London. Published by John Murray,
“Mr Graham has a noble courtesy an unerring chivalry that makes him range himself on the side of the bottom dog a detestation of anything like bullying every gift of charity indeed except the shy genius of pity.”
Ironically, if you ask me, John Murray was the publisher of Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species, in which Darwin plagiarized the scientific underdog Patrick Matthew's discovery of natural selection, his terminology and his idiosyncratic explanatory examples for how natural selection works in nature compared to artificial selection. On which note, the Underdog Myth is taken from the A-Z of Big Data busted myths in Sutton, M. (2014) Nullius in Verba: Darwin's Greatest Secret. ThinkerMedia Inc. USA - the book that used newly available Big Data technology to discover independently verifiable new data that now proves it more likely than not that those top dogs in biology - Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace - plagiarized the discovery of natural selection from Matthew.
By way of comparison
In somewhat the same way that radar hi-technology combined with Spitfire design and engineering defeated the superior numbers of Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe, the technology of the Internet, Google's mighty Library Project and skeptical research combined to defeat the fallacy spreading of the Darwin Industry about who really did, independently,discover natural selection.
Ooops - I just mentioned the Nazis. Hopefully, Godwin's Law - does not apply to discussions following blog posts.
Getting the Masons, Nazis and Darwin all in the same blog post is - I can assure you - a mere coincidence. They do happen you know- which is why we have a word for them. That said, amazing tri-coincidences of the kind I uniquely discovered and then describe in my book Nullius in Verba are unheard of in the history of scientific discovery and so - to me at least - appear improbable beyond rational belief.
Oxford English Dictionary had this as its earliest example of "underdog," but maybe they only count it if one word and not two.
"ˈunderdog orig. U.S.
[under-1 5 b; cf. top-dog s.v. top n.1 34.]
The beaten dog in a fight; fig. the party overcome or worsted in a contest; one who is in a state of inferiority or subjection.
1887 Daily Tel. 30 Apr. 3/3 There is an indefinable expression in his face and figure of having been vanquished, of having succumbed, of having been ‘under-dog’ as the saying is. 1892 Daily Chron. 23 June 5/2 The mission of the Democratic party is to fight for the under-dog.
Hence ˈunderdogger, one who supports the underdog in a contest; underˈdoggery.
1938 H. Belloc in Tablet 1 Jan. 8/1 Anyhow, the difficulty and injustice of under-doggery is softened in all sorts of ways by the virtues of charity and humility. 1969 D. Thomson Aims of Hist. 68 It was no doubt natural, perhaps inevitable, that the approach of early enthusiasts for economic history should be strongly tinged with under-doggery. 1970 N.Y. Times 17 Aug. 26/4 ‘We under⁓doggers have to try harder,’ he [sc. Governor Rockefeller] explained to reporters. 1977 Time 3 Oct. 54 After three crushing defeats, Australia's loyal underdoggers were busy recalling all the old familiar whiny excuses. 1978 Times 2 Sept. 7 The angel with the perfect smell, the innocent, the do-gooder, the outsider, the perfect stranger. I was a great underdogger. 1981 London Rev. Bks. 2–15 July 24/3 He bore a grudge for not getting the Nobel prize.‥ Reviews‥have made much of O'Hara's under⁓doggery.
Thank you for informing us that the OED gets back only so far as 1887 for this term. In my opinion, it would be unusual and weirdly unhelpful of the OED to count it as one word only when the two - hyphenated or not - has the exact same meaning.
If so, then once again I think here is a case where the OED needs serious updating and re-thunking of its purpose.