1 : the period between early July and early September when the hot sultry weather of summer usually occurs in the northern hemisphere
2 : a period of stagnation or inactivity
While Merriam-Webster's Word-of-the-Day Archive only dates back one month, I am POSITIVE this was a word last year around this exact time (pre-blog, unfortunately); I remember thinking, Oh, DOG DAYS, how appropriate since it's August (another hint exposing the workings of the machine).
I have been a subscriber since 2006, and I cannot say I've seen many words come through here twice (even if they did I am sure I would likely fail to recognize the duplicity), but DOG DAYS I remember. I even remember thinking about the term as though I did write about it, about summertime radio commercials advertising the air-conditioned—
WAIT! I've discovered my foul. Canicular (January 8, 2010): of or relating to the DOG DAYS. I did write about radio commercials. Interestingly, on January 8th, Merriam-Webster actually did not send me a word; I dug canicular from the archives of interesting words I had saved in my email. And the word originally arrived August 9, 2009, ONE YEAR AND THREE DAYS AGO.
I'm not sure what this says about my memory. I was incorrect, but only partially. The word wasn't DOG DAYS, but that term was in the definition. And it did arrive about a year ago, although I wrote about it in January. So all those thoughts were already repeated. This is actually the third time I've thought about the term DOG DAYS. This is starting to make me think of Kosuth and his three chairs again—the idea, the actualization, and the interpretation. I am so far removed from the essence DOG DAYS, I may have entirely lost the meaning.
To step back a moment: the DOG in DOG DAYS refers to the "Dog Star" aka the "Sirius Star" (the Greek Seirious), which rises simultaneously with the sun in the northern hemisphere during the hottest days of summer. Canicular comes from the Latin canicula, meaning "small dog." Canicula is ALSO the Latin name for the dog star. DOG DAYS in Latin translates to dies caniculares.
Basically, all these translations are suggesting: it's hot. The kind of hot in which old people die and children faint from dehydration. You will be sweaty and gross and not want to eat or have sex. You will muster only enough energy to drag your sorry ass in front of the fan and sit. If you have central air, none of this applies.