Hot answers tagged etymology
The dog refers to the son. The term 犬子 originally meant "puppy": 【漢·列仙傳·邗子】邗子者，自言蜀人也，好放犬子。時有犬走入山穴，邗子隨入。 So calling one's son 犬子, would have been in essence referring to a child as "my little pup". That was not originally a self-deprecation. Instead, it was a childhood nickname for a famous poet, Ssu-ma Hsiang-ju: ...
I think the dog refers to son. Chinese parents called their sons "dog" mostly because they hope their kids can easily grow up as puppys. Depreciatory is also an important reason.
谦虚的说法，介绍自己的孩子通常用 犬子. 《史记·司马相如列传》：“少时好读书，学击剑，故其亲名之曰犬子。”
I think both "減" and "咸" exists in the ancient times, but for certain reasons scholars like to use "咸" in place of "減". 損也,從水,咸聲 == It has the same meaning as '損', water as glyph component, and the same pronunciation as '咸'. In 管子·宙合, which was written before the early Han Dynasty, it says "左操五音，右執五味，懷繩與准鉤，多備規軸，減 溜大成，是唯時德之節。 .... 減，盡也。溜，發也。 ...."
the dog is meant to describe the son. 犬子 means a boy like a dog. We think dog is not a powerful animal as opposed to tiger or lion. You can get the feeling in this phrase "虎父无犬子", meaning a father like a tiger can't have a son like a dog, which is usually used to compliment other person's son and their father. On the other hand, calling your own son 犬子 ...
Definitely the son. 虎父无犬子: Eagles do not breed doves. Opp: 上梁不正下梁歪: Fish begins to stink at the head. (上梁 refers to the father or leader)
Did some research, although not very authoritative it still seems quite convincing: 犬子的叫法到底是怎么来的 个人觉得应该只是谦称 毕竟中国人一直讲究谦虚，不可能见人就称自己儿子是虎子 大概人说虎父无犬子，所以才会有犬子一称来谦虚的说自己的孩子 网上只说明犬子其中一个意思是指司马相如的小名 并没有明确说犬子来自司马相如的小名 The basic idea being that the phrase came from: 虎父无犬子: lit. lions don't father dogs - or lion father =/= dog son - so in order ...
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