5 Animals That Inspire Canine Connotations
The characteristics of canids have long been applied to characterize humans, as this discussion of words and expressions based on the names of various canine species demonstrates.
A slang term for a person who guides illegal immigrants into the United States (usually from Mexico), rather than a term based on behavior, coyote nevertheless suggests at best a person who profits from the desperation of others and at worst cheats or misleads his or her clients or endangers their lives.
Dog is an insult comparing a person to the animal in terms of its worst characteristics, such as laziness or groveling, though it may also indicate (perhaps grudging) admiration, as in the statement “You lucky dog.” To go to the dogs is to decline in health or condition; to hot-dog is to show off. Somebody who puts on the dog affects stylishness or sophistication. Dogged describes stubborn determination, but dog-eat-dog behavior is treacherous behavior, suggesting the members of a pack of dogs turning on each other.
Hound, a term for a particular class of dog bred for hunting, is sometimes used to label an unpleasant person, although the term may also apply to someone who doggedly pursues something, as in chowhound for a person avid about eating.
Foxy enjoyed a brief heyday as an adjective to describe sexual attractiveness, but it has had a much longer tradition in the sense of “cunning, crafty.” To say that someone is crazy like a fox, meanwhile, means that the person is craftily feigning insanity to some end.
Someone who serves another menially or to unsavory ends, or abases oneself, is sometimes referred to as a jackal.
Lecherous or sexually aggressive behavior in men is often compared to the predatory nature of a wolf.
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