View synonyms for dog-eat-dog


[ dawg-eet-dawg, dog-eet-dog ]


  1. marked by destructive or ruthless competition; without self-restraint, ethics, etc.:

    It's a dog-eat-dog industry.


  1. complete egotism; action based on utter cynicism:

    The only rule of the marketplace was dog-eat-dog.


  1. Ruthlessly competitive: “You have to look out for your own interests; it's a dog-eat-dog world.”

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Word History and Origins

Origin of dog-eat-dog1

First recorded in 1930–35

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Idioms and Phrases

Ruthless acquisition or competition, as in With shrinking markets, it's dog eat dog for every company in this field . This contradicts a Latin proverb which maintains that dog does not eat dog, first recorded in English in 1543. Nevertheless, by 1732 it was put as “Dogs are hard drove when they eat dogs” (Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia ).

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Example Sentences

The cannibalism is, in typical Sondheim fashion, a cheeky metaphor for the dog-eat-dog capitalism of the day.

His plays have typically been dog-eat-dog affairs; it makes sense that he views politics as trench warfare.

The book world's increasingly dog-eat-dog climate works against writers like Abrahams.

If we eventually lick the Kradens, one of the very reasons will be because we're a dog-eat-dog society.

I cannot live by the dog-eat-dog code that seems to prevail wherever folk get jammed together in an unwieldy social mass.

If it's got to be dog eat dog, and no gents need apply at a firemen's muster, then here's where we have our part of the lunch.

No one could have characterized the kind of thing he had done more severely than he when he called it dog eat dog.

It was a half-ludicrous, half-horrible "dog eat dog," an unspeakable cannibalism.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.