Daily Dozen

An idiom with origins in the 1920’s.

Meaning of Daily Dozen Idiom

Daily dozen, as an idiom, refers to a daily exercise routine or any daily list of tasks or chores habitually performed. It expression usually refers to exercises but need not refer to one dozen exercises done in a series. Instead, it is used to refer to exercise in general or a person’s particular exercise routine. It can also be used to refer to any daily activity or set of tasks which must be completed.


This idiom is a bit old-fashioned and is rarely used today. It usually referred to morning exercises and only rarely is used to refer to other tasks.


“I always feel more energetic after my daily dozen.”

“My daily dozen always included twenty pushups.”

“The daily dozen around here usually starts with brewing a pot of coffee.”


The daily dozen has its origin with Walter C. Camp, Yale University football coach during the later 1800’s. He was a very important figure in the history of American football, but during World War I, he worked as an advisor to the U.S. military. He devised a series of daily calisthenics to help servicemen stay fit. It was called the “daily dozen set-up” and consisted of 12 exercises:

  • hands
  • grind
  • crawl
  • wave
  • hips
  • grate
  • curl
  • weave
  • head
  • grasp
  • crouch
  • wing

During the 1920’s, he used audio recordings and later radio to deliver these “setting-up” exercise to the general public, and they became popular enough that any person’s particular exercise routine began to be referred to as the daily dozen, even after the original program was forgotten.

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