dog eat dog

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
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See also: dog-eat-dog


Alternative forms[edit]


From dog + eat + dog. This etymology is incomplete. You can help Wiktionary by elaborating on the origins of this term.



dog eat dog (not comparable)

  1. Ruthlessly acquisitive or competitive. Describes a business or other set of circumstances where people try to succeed at the expense of other people.
    In this company it's dog eat dog. If you don't do better than the rest, you're on the street in next to no time.
    • 1739, The Genuine History of the Life of Richard Turpin, page 15:
      [] Turpin swore, if he did not deliver immediately he would shoot him through the Head, upon which King fell a Laughing, and said, What! Dog eat Dog?
    • 1795, Mark Moore, The Memoirs and Adventures of Mark Moore, Late an Officer in the British Navy:
      By mutual agreement of the French Captain and ours, and by consent of the officers, considering, as the Captain said, privateers fighting was dog eat dog, and nothing to be got but hard blows and rags []
    • 1825 December 10, “To My True Disciples”, in Cobbett's Political Register, page 661:
      He has acted upon the principle of dog eat dog; and has fallen upon his own-brethren of the broad sheet, saying worse of them almost than I ever did; but still not half so bad as they "deserve.
    • 1851 April, The Knickerbocker; Or, New-York Monthly Magazine:
      In that event, as clear as fog, / You'll know what's meant by dog eat dog!
    • 1889, William Dena Howells, A Hazard of New Fortunes, page 266:
      As for the game I came on them, it was dog eat dog, anyway.
    • 2007: Zoe Wood, Guardian Unlimited, Nov 11, Tesco has a flutter in Vegas
      It is dog eat dog on Las Vegas's world-famous Strip as casino complexes such as MGM Grand and New York New York compete for attention with outlandish gestures like rollercoaster rides and a replica of the Manhattan skyline.


See also[edit]