To screw the pooch is a slang expression for making an enormous and embarrassing mistake.
The phrase was used as “f*** the dog” in the 1930’s and at the time it meant wasting time or being lazy.
By the 1960’s, the meaning of “f*** the dog” turned into making a mistake.
It is a radio DJ, Jack May (also known as Candied Yam Jackson) who claimed to have turned “fuck the dog” into “screw the pooch” during the 1950’s.
“Screw the pooch” was popularized thanks to Tom Wolfe’s book, and its film adaptation; The Right Stuff, which was based upon the Mercury Seven space program, launched in the 1960’s.
The expression was first defined on Urban Dictionary in 2003.
- Slate.com – A Reporter Said “Screw the Pooch” on Face the Nation. Where Does That Phrase Come From?
- Dictionary.com – Screw the pooch