a peek inside the fishbowl

31 May, 2009

Playground terminology question

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Archive of playground games

There was a recent Twitter-based discussion which I thought deserved a few more opinions.

Imagine this scene. You’re pushing your child on the swing. You give him/her a big push, the kind that has you walking under the swing while the kid (presumably still in the swing) is overhead.

There is a special term for this.

I’ve always called it an underdoggie. Easterners seem to call it an underduck. What is it where you’re from?

40 Responses to "Playground terminology question"

1 | Mary Lynn

May 31st, 2009 at 9:55 pm


We called it an underdog when I was in grade school. I grew up in Renfrew County.

Just asked my husband the same question. He says they called it an underdog, too. He grew up in Toronto.

2 | Sarah Morgenstern

May 31st, 2009 at 10:04 pm


Underdog – I grew up in Edmonton and my husband in Saskatoon and that was the prevailing term in both places. Either name, kids LOVE them!

3 | Kirsten W

May 31st, 2009 at 10:30 pm


Underdog down in Iowa!

4 | Amy @ Muddy Boots

May 31st, 2009 at 10:35 pm


As I tweeted, “underduck” for kiddos in Regina… at least those playing on swings in the 80’s.

5 | Julie

June 1st, 2009 at 6:15 am


I always called it an underdog, until I really thought about it and realized that underduck makes more sense. But still, in northern Ontario, we called it an underdog. Funny that.

6 | Erica

June 1st, 2009 at 6:28 am


It was an underduck in Winnipeg. Hee.

7 | karen at virtually there

June 1st, 2009 at 6:39 am


Underdog in both Sudbury and Fonthill (Niagara Region) where I grew up.

8 | Soire

June 1st, 2009 at 6:48 am


Underduck in NB.

10 | John

June 1st, 2009 at 7:16 am


This sparked great debate between my wife and I. She says underduck. I say underdog.

I’m from Ottawa, she’s a former military brat.

11 | Erin

June 1st, 2009 at 7:32 am


Underduck from Kelowna BC!

12 | andrea

June 1st, 2009 at 7:34 am


I like this definintion:

“The best kind of swing push, if used sparingly, this describes when the pusher takes a kind of running start at the pushee such that the momentum carries the pusher so far and the swing so high that the pusher actually runs beneath (or ducks under) the person they’re pushing.

The recipient will demand more, but this coveted push is best used no more than once per swingset-session, so as not to devalue its thrill factor and drive little kids to extreme sports at unripe ages.”

(from here)

13 | andrea

June 1st, 2009 at 7:35 am


… which is funny because I only do it once per swing-set session. Too many underdogs could spoil a kid forever.

14 | Chantal

June 1st, 2009 at 8:08 am


I always called in underdog. I am from Cornwall ON

15 | Hellcat13

June 1st, 2009 at 9:16 am


Underdog from just south of Ottawa.

16 | Jen_nifer

June 1st, 2009 at 9:25 am



I’ve been in Ottawa my whole life. Although someone saying Underdog wouldn’t be entirely unfamiliar.

17 | Trea

June 1st, 2009 at 10:14 am


Underduck in south-east Alberta growing up … but I see the prairies are divided!

18 | andrea

June 1st, 2009 at 10:36 am


Underduck totally makes sense. I bet that’s where it started, seeing as though you’re DUCKING and going UNDER the swing and all that.

Clearly it took one person to misunderstand and tell the rest of the country that it’s called an UNDERDOG instead.

I wonder what they call it in the U.S? Anyone?

p.s. For my next post let’s talk about what you called out when you finished playing hide and seek and needed everyone to come in. ;)

19 | Krista

June 1st, 2009 at 10:55 am


I’m from Kitchener and we called it an underdog. My kids have changed it to “rocket booster’!

20 | Elizabeth

June 1st, 2009 at 11:56 am


I’m from Niagara Falls, and we always called it an underdog.

21 | Nicole

June 1st, 2009 at 2:23 pm


Underduck… I have never heard the term underdog. Surrey, BC

22 | The Moffman

June 1st, 2009 at 3:19 pm


Chalk up another one for Underduck.

My swinging days were spent in Ottawa, Goose Bay Labrador & Belleville, Ontario.

23 | Mar

June 1st, 2009 at 3:39 pm


Another vote for Underducky or Underduck. Grew up in Ottawa :)

24 | Tali

June 1st, 2009 at 4:32 pm


Ha, I had never heard either before I moved to Canada, and always wondered what was right – like, maybe I was hearing both, or did I need my hearing checked? So I just avoid saying it…(and doing it, actually)

25 | mary

June 1st, 2009 at 5:36 pm


I’ve always said underduck (from Newfoundland, living in Ottawa). I never heard it called an underdog and if I did I would have thought they were mispronouncing it. I give lots, my daughter loves to go really high, why hold back?

26 | Brie

June 1st, 2009 at 6:57 pm


I’ve heard both. In Winnipeg we mostly called it an underdog.

27 | Nat

June 1st, 2009 at 7:11 pm


Honestly, I didn’t know it had a name.

28 | Ms. Porter

June 1st, 2009 at 8:14 pm


UnderDOG! i wonder what my kids are going to say tomorrow when i ask them if it should be an underdog or underduck? hmmm…don’t think i can change what i’ve been calling it for over 30 years!

29 | pilsner

June 2nd, 2009 at 10:22 am


underdog — osgoode, metcalfe & manotick

30 | Meme

December 26th, 2009 at 6:17 pm


Underdog, in Wisconsin. I always figured it was because of the cartoon character, you fly like Underdog!

31 | Meme

December 26th, 2009 at 6:18 pm


Underdog, in Wisconsin. I always figured it was because of the cartoon character, you fly like Underdog! (Grew up in the 70’s)

32 | ISpeakTheTruth

May 7th, 2010 at 4:12 pm


In Milwaukee it was underduck. Underduck makes sense: you go under the person, then duck to avoid their feet. Underdog is meaningless. And to those who think it comes from the TV show, the TV show was not created until 1964 and underduck was already in use by that time.

33 | wendy

April 10th, 2011 at 12:43 am


My family called it an underduck! Im so glad to see there are a few of you out there that used the same term. I just got home from a party and was teased about using the term underduck.I had to check it out as soon as I got home. I still think underduck says it all. Whats the dog about?

34 | Sara Wegner

July 25th, 2013 at 3:48 am


I’m from Michigan and growing up we always called them under duck. Yet my daughter and our nieces refer to them as underdogs. Where did they get that from??? Mishearing someone on the playground??

35 | matt

May 13th, 2015 at 8:16 pm


underduck in wisconsin

36 | Craig

May 23rd, 2016 at 1:46 pm


UnderDOG, originally from Milwaukee WI. Everyone called it that there. Now I live near Appleton WI and my kids call it UnderDUCK. WTF?????

37 | Thomas

November 25th, 2016 at 9:59 am


I’m from Eagan, MN. Everyone there says underdog, it was explained to me as a dog goes under your legs.
My fiancee is from Green Bay, and we were pushing our niece on the swing, and she asked for an underduck, and I was thoroughly confused. My fiancee and her family often mess up colloquial phrases, so I assumed this was an instance of that. A great debate ensued and I turned to the internet. I’m still confused.

38 | Thomas

November 25th, 2016 at 10:03 am


Also, if “under-duck” is referring to ducking under, wouldn’t you just call it a “duck under swing”?

Under-dog: dog going under. referring to animal
Under-duck: a duck going under? that doesn’t make sense.
Dog-under: doesn’t make sense.
Duck-under: I can see that making sense.

39 | Raven

February 28th, 2021 at 3:52 am


I’m from the west coast of Canada and my friends and I always called it an underduck because you DUCK UNDER the swing at the end.

* Duck… As in what you yell at someone so the don’t get hit in the head by a flying object…like a moving wing for example.

** Underdog doesn’t make sense to me because an underdog is the percieved weaker opponent in a fight which is the only way I’ve heard underdog used.

40 | Raven

February 28th, 2021 at 3:55 am


To those questioning the term “duck” here’s some interesting etymology of “duck” as a verb which makes underduck make more sense to me.


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