To be “done like a dinner” is to be finished and utterly defeated. “We did him then, and I’m glad he’s done now: such a man as that ought to be done like a dinner” was cited in print in 1845. The saying has long been popular in Australia.
The saying has only infrequently been used in the United States. “And forget the damn Yankees. They’re done like dinner” was cited in a Boston newspaper in 1979.
The Free Dictionary
be done like a (dog’s) dinner (Australian informal)
to be completely defeated
The Love Match
By Henry Cockton
New York, NY: Burgess, Stringer and Company
We did him then, and I’m glad he’s done now: such a man as that ought to be done like a dinner.
Settlers and Convicts; or, Recollections of Sixteen Years’ Labour in the Australian Backwoods
By Alexander Harris
London: C. Cox
It ‘ll soon be daylight, and if we don’t give the rain time to wash out the horsetracks we shall be done like a dinner.
Shimmer of Silk:
A volume of Melbourne Cup stories
By Robert Percy Whitworth and W. A. Windas
Melbourne: William Marshall and Company
But if you don’t, it’s another thing, and of course you’re done like a dinner: ...
Fifty Years of My Life in the World of Sport at Home and Abroad
By Sir John Dugdale Astley (3d Bart.)
London: Hurst and Blackett, Limited
We were done ‘like a dinner,’ all the same; for, when my servant called me in the morning, he said that ‘a gang of navvies had been brought into College and had cut a way through the arch, leaving a gangway quite sufficient for us to pass through’ ...
20 December 1920,
“The reason was he came up for that round smeared with the scent of toobar roses, and I was done like a dinner.”
By Douglas LePan
Toronto, Ont.: McClelland and Stewart
“I was done like a dinner.”
Google News Archive
11 September 1973, The Age (Melbourne, Australia), “Council group split,” pg. 3, col. 1:
While the victors celebrated, a disappointed Cr. Rice said: “We’ve been done, and done like a dinner.”
2 July 1979, Boston (MA) Herald American, “Sox can’t forget O’s” by D. Leo Monahan, pg. 19, col. 2:
And forget the damn Yankees. They’re done like dinner.
13 February 1987, The Oregonian (Portland, OR), “When fur flies, better Duck” by Terry Frei, pg. F1, col. 1:
The Beavers were done like dinner.
Cassel Dictionary of Slang
By Jonathon Green
done like a dinner phr. (mid-19C+] (Aus.) ‘done to a turn’, i.e. utterly defeated, [done adj.1 (4) + cooking imagery]
done like a dog’s dinner phr. [1930s+] (N.Z.) trounced, utterly defeated, [var. on done like a dinner phr.)
done like a dinner
The act of being finished or screwed over in a way that is similar to the act of a dinner’s preperation time coming to an end.
1. If I don’t pay that mob boss Tony his money back in one hour I’m going to be done like a dinner!
by s0meone Jan 21, 2006