AskDefine | Define dogwatch

Dictionary Definition

dogwatch n : either of two short watches: from 4-6 pm or 6-8 pm

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative forms


From dog + watch.




  1. Aboard a ship, either of the two short two-hour watches that take place between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
  2. In the context of "by extension": A nightshift, or other very late or early period of duty.
    • 1946, Mezz Mezzrow & Bernard Wolfe, Really the Blues, Payback Press 1999, p. 22:
      The girls we knew were all on the dogwatch, from four to twelve in the morning.


nautical: short watch
  • Finnish: koiravahti

Extensive Definition

Dog watch, in marine or naval terminology, is a watch, a period of work duty or a work shift, between 1600 and 2000 (4 p.m. and 8 p.m.). It is split into two, first and last dog watches.
The name is thought to have come from the fact that someone tasked with one of these 'half' watches was said to be 'dodging the watch', taking or standing the 'dodge watch'. This became shortened to 'dog watch'.
An alternative etymology is that those sleeping get only 'dog sleep' in this watch.
It may also be called the dog watch because it is "cur-tailed"
The reason behind this watch's existence is that in order for the crew to rotate through all the watches it was necessary to split one of the watches in half. This allowed the sailors to stand different watches instead of one team being forced to stand the mid-watch every night.
The choice of time also allows both watches, if there are only two, to eat an evening meal at about the traditional time.

See also

dogwatch in German: Hundewache

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

anchor watch, bit, day shift, full time, graveyard shift, half time, lobster trick, night shift, overtime, part time, relay, shift, split schedule, split shift, stint, sunrise watch, swing shift, time, tour, tour of duty, trick, turn, turn of work, watch, work shift
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