[hang-dawg, -dog]
  1. browbeaten; defeated; intimidated; abject: He always went about with a hangdog look.
  2. shamefaced; guilty: He sneaked out of the room with a hangdog expression.
  3. suitable to a degraded or contemptible person; sneaky; furtive.
  1. Archaic. a degraded, contemptible person.

Origin of hangdog

First recorded in 1670–80; hang + dog

Synonyms for hangdog

Antonyms for hangdog

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for hang-dog

Historical Examples of hang-dog

  • He had a hang-dog look and felt ashamed, but he was resolute.

    Despair's Last Journey

    David Christie Murray

  • "To cut your throat, you hang-dog scoundrel," said Sampson, irately.

    The Wreck of the Titan

    Morgan Robertson

  • They tried to be lively and willing, but there was an air of hang-dog diffidence about the place.

    Sister Carrie

    Theodore Dreiser

  • The trooper arose and slouched to the tracking-line with a hang-dog air.

    The Woman from Outside

    Hulbert Footner

  • They helped to throw people off their guard, and to conceal his hang-dog look.

British Dictionary definitions for hang-dog


  1. downcast, furtive, or guilty in appearance or manner
  1. a furtive or sneaky person
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for hang-dog

also hangdog, 1670s, "befitting a hang-dog," a despicable, degraded fellow, so called either from notion of being fit only to hang a dog (cf. cutthroat) or of being a low person (i.e. dog) fit only for hanging. As a noun from 1680s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper