Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thursday Trivia: Hair of the Dog

Not that anyone had need of such a thing after a this week's New Year's celebration.
No, this is pure coincidence that we scheduled this particular phrase for today.

Just so you know.

So where does the phrase "hair of the dog" come from?

okay so technically this is Maxie's hair, but you get the idea...!

We get closer to its meaning with the complete saying, "hair of the dog that bit you".
But experts argue the origin of the phrase.

The website Straight Dope suggests it began in Roman times, when it was believed that the best remedy for a dog bite was to salve the wound with the burnt hair of the same dog.

They offer as proof to substantiate this claim a common Roman saying, that similia similibus curantur, or "like cures like."

However, the popular UK website,, tells us that the first known reference to this saying was written by John Heywood in 1546:

I pray thee let me and my fellow have
A hair of the dog that bit us last night -
And bitten were we both to the brain aright.
We saw each other drunk in the good ale glass. points out that "'The hair of the dog' is unusual in that the figurative version is recorded before any known examples of the literal meaning. '

The first literal use of the phrase doesn't appear in print until 1760, in a book by Robert James, entitled A Treatise on Canine Madness: "The hair of the dog that gave the wound is advised as an application to the part injured."

Interestingly, James isn't a fan of the treatment. He recommends another popular remedy of the time - using the ashes of river crabs.

Eww. If it's all the same, we'll pass.


  1. ha ha we will pass too. Have a terrific Thursday.
    Best wishes Molly

  2. The ashes of river crabs? What's that even mean? Ick! Had to laugh cause as I was reading this I was using the exact same brush on Gizmo...I got him the cat-sized one as it "fit" him better than the small dog size...And yes, I had that much hair and more in mine...It's always time for "hair of the dog" around here :)

  3. Ashes of river crabs.. Like Gizmo, what the heck does that mean.BOL I hate being brushed, it's all the spray she puts on me first :( I smell like a poof's parlour..BOL xxooxx

    Mollie and Alfie

  4. I learned something today...Eww! Lol!

  5. Good golly. Ashes of river crabs? We'll pass.....

  6. Ah, the literal version may not have been recorded but it was verbal folk lore in a largely illiterate society. Just hope they only burned a bit of hair clipped from the dog...and I'll pass on either literal remedy and go for the metaphorical one any time!

  7. Wow. And I thought humans were weird NOW. They were even weirder back THEN!

  8. Ewww, burnt crabs!?!?!

  9. EEEWWWW, we dont EVER want to think about doggie hair!!!

  10. I love learning new stuff....and anything that helps me (or any of us cats) understand humans is something I'm interested in. However, dog hair and crab ashes are beyond my areas of expertise PERIOD. Ewwwww doesn't even quite cover it! :D

    Kitty Hugs, Sammy

  11. Fun post. In medieval Poland, one treatment for wounds was to dress them with bread kneaded with spiderwebs. Definitely "ewwwwww" but, who knows, maybe there was something to it. Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrs.

  12. Euuuuuu! We'll pass too. No river crabs or us. Unless they're already cooked and declawed.


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