Hair of the Dog


Anyone who’s pulled an all-nighter at college (for purposes other than cramming for finals) is probably familiar with this phrase.  The thinking goes, when suffering a major hangover, imbibe a bit of the brew that knocked you down and you’ll stop feeling the effect of the hangover.  Unfortunately, however, that makes you somewhat incapacitated to go to class the next day, or wherever it is you want/need to go.

The “Facts on File Dictionary of Cliche’s defines “hair of the dog” as: a small amount of what made one ill might be used as a remedy; recipe for curing a hangover.”  The expression is best known from a play in 1546 by John Heywood called “Proverbs.”  “I pray thee let me and my fellow have a haire of the dog that bit us last night.”

Even prior to that is the actual origin of the phrase.  And old folk remedy instructs the victim of a dog bite to cure it by placing the burnt hair of a dog over the wound.  Many folk remedies have at least a semblance of a basis on medical fact, but I fail to see how burn dog hair can help an open wound.  I guess it makes about as much sense as drinking alcohol to remedy previous alcoholic overindulgence.

Maybe there’s a reason I’m not a doctor!  Or a social worker, for that matter.

 

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