Hair of the dog
is a colloquial English
expression predominantly used to refer to ingestion of alcohol
as treatment for a hangover
. It is occasionally used with respect to dealing with the after effects of use of other recreational drugs
. It is a shortened form of the expression “the hair of the dog that bit you.”
Origin and derivation
The origin of the phrase is literal, and comes from an erroneous method of treatment of a rabid
dog bite by placing hair from the dog in the bite wound. The use of the phrase as a metaphor for a hangover treatment dates back to the time of William Shakespeare
. Ebenezer Cobham Brewer
writes in the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1898): "In Scotland it is a popular belief that a few hairs of the dog that bit you applied to the wound will prevent evil consequences. Applied to drinks, it means, if overnight you have indulged too freely, take a glass of the same wine next morning to soothe the nerves. 'If this dog do you bite, soon as out of your bed, take a hair of the tail in the morning.'" He also cites two apocryphal poems containing the phrase, one of which is attributed to Aristophanes
. It is possible that the phrase was used to justify an existing practice, and the idea of Similia similibus curantur
("like cures like") dates back at least to the time of Hippocrates
The phrase also exists in Hungarian, where the literal translation to English is "(You may cure) the dog's bite with its fur", but has evolved into a short two-word phrase ("kutyaharapást szőrével") that is used frequently in other contexts when one is trying to express that the solution to a problem is more of the problem. Among the Irish and Mexicans, the phrase 'The Cure' ("curarse la cruda", in Spanish) is often used instead of 'hair of the dog'. It is used, often sarcastically, in the question "Going for a Cure?"
In Polish, hair of the dog is called "a wedge" (klin), mirroring the concept of dislodging a stuck wedge with another one. This is also the case with most other Slavic family of languages' members, such as Slovene, Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian.
is due partly to poisoning by the toxic chemicals into which alcohol is converted by the body and the other components of the alcoholic drink, and partly to the body's reaction to withdrawal from alcohol. The symptoms of a hangover are similar to those of withdrawal, namely a throbbing headache, nausea, and maybe even vomiting. Thus consuming more alcohol ("hair of the dog") may help by blunting some of these symptoms, but will only aggravate the symptoms once the liver breaks the alcohol down, because the body will have additional toxins to deal with. Some researchers have suggested that ethanol may help dilute other alcohols that cause many of the hangover symptoms, but no controlled studies were carried out.
Appearances in popular culture
- In the 2008 episode "The Debarted" of The Simpsons, Bart gives his new friend Donny "blue vines" and says "Here's a little hair of the dog for tomorrow."
- In the Stanley Kubrick film The Shining, a ghostly bartender asks what Jack Torrance will be drinking; he responds "Hair of the dog that bit me, Lloyd."
- "Hair of the Dog" is the title track from Scottish rock band Nazareth's 1976 album of the same name.
- The Ramones have a song about it in their album Animal Boy. The track is named "Hair of the dog".
- The sixth track on Senses Fail's album Life Is Not A Waiting Room is named "Hair of the Dog".
- "Hair of the Dog" is german thrash metal band Tankard's 1989 compilation album.