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shaggy dog story

A long-winded anecdote that has a silly or anticlimactic ending. The old man was known for telling shaggy dog stories that made people groan and scratch their heads when he reached the ending.
See also: dog, shaggy, story
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

shaggy-dog Story

a kind of funny story that relies for its humor on its length and its sudden ridiculous ending. Don't let John tell a shaggy-dog story. It'll go on for hours. Mary didn't get the point of Fred's shaggy-dog story.
See also: story
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

shaggy-dog story

A long drawn-out anecdote with an absurd or anticlimactic ending. For example, At first he had us laughing wildly at his shaggy-dog stories, but after the third or fourth we found them tiresome . The term alludes to a well-known series of such stories, which involved a talking dog. [c. 1940]
See also: story
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

a shaggy-dog story

a long, rambling story or joke, especially one that is amusing only because it is absurdly inconsequential or pointless.
The expression, dating back to the 1940s, comes from the subject of one such anecdote, a dog with shaggy hair.
1993 New York Times Book Review The book has the unhurried pace of the best of the shaggy dog stories; the pleasure is all in the journey rather than the destination.
See also: story
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

a ˌshaggy-ˈdog story

(informal) a long, complicated story or joke, which has no proper ending and is not very funny: He told us this joke, which turned out to be a shaggy-dog story, and I hate those!This expression comes from the subject of one particular story of this kind, a dog with long, untidy (shaggy) hair.
See also: story
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in periodicals archive ?
Pic initially mocks Bradley's eager romanticism (played with endearing shagginess by Kinnear) but ends up indulging it, while Diana and David are arguably let off the hook too easily for their mutual infidelity--a perception borne out by Mitchell and Burke, neither of whom seem interested in making their characters particularly sympathetic.
The constants of the Polyphemus tradition as he tracks it are: the outsize figure, his blackness and shagginess, and (in variable forms) the mastery over beasts.
The dramatic mane, the shagginess of which extends along the lion's back and down onto his haunches, appears much as it does in the main scene, except that there is no stippling.
And something else, too, a change not of race but of character: a new look, a new easiness, a new shagginess, the fade of old coal-mine America.
He it was who made the army of saints and martyrs and prophets identifiable at once by certain unvarying indices--the cut and growth of saints' beards, their fall in waves or ringlets, their smooth flow or their shagginess....
A `levis hircus' would be a contradiction in terms, since hircus was popularly connected with hirtus and hirsutus;(9) likewise in Greek [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] with [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].(10) So there is a double adynaton in the one line: `the goat would exchange its normal shagginess for the "smooth" skin of a fish or dolphin' (Mankin).(11) But in oracle-speak a `levis hircus' may not be a hircus at all, just as a `wooden dog' is not a dog but the dog-briar ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]).(12) `Levis' could suit a tree with smooth bark, as we see from Pliny, N.H.