Origin of mad-dog
Words nearby mad-dog
MORE ABOUT MAD DOG
What else does mad dog mean?
Mad dog is a slang term used to describe someone as “wild and crazy.” It is often used as a nickname or to describe a kind of mean stare.
It’s also slang for “cheap, high-alcohol wine,” referring to the brand MD 20/20 in particular.
How is mad dog pronounced?[ mad dawg ]
Where does mad dog come from?
By the 1980s, mad dog emerged as slang for a “thug,” shifting to senses of “rebel” or “threatening stare” in the 1990s. The underlying senses of the term characterize someone as “acting vicious or crazy” like a mad dog—with mad here preserving an older and original sense of “rabid,” the effects resulting in aggressive behavior. The connotation of mad dog softened in the 2000s, often applied as a moniker or nickname for someone positively considered “ferocious.”
The 1993 comedy Mad Dog and Glory, featuring Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman, and Bill Murray, follows a crime-scene photographer dubbed Mad Dog. Mad Dog Sports Radio, as another notable example, started broadcasting sports news and talk on Sirius XM in 2008. The name suggests they are “wild” about sports. Elsewhere in sports broadcasting, Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo co-hosted a very popular sports radio show, Mike and the Mad Dog, in the 1990s and 2000s. Another prominent Mad Dog is James “Mad Dog” Mattis, who served as Secretary of Defense under President Donald Trump. Mattis is said to have earned the nickname while serving in the Gulf War, apparently as he was a formidable soldier.
As a slang term for cheap wine one buys simply to get drunk, mad dog takes off in the 1970s in reference to MD 20/20, a brand of inexpensive fortified wine from Mogen David wineries—hence the abbreviation MD, which apparently people joked stood for Mad Dog due to its inebriating effects. This mad dog harkens back to the 16th century, when mad dog was a term for a kind of strong ale, the name likening the ensuing intoxication to the behavior of a rabid dog.
How is mad dog used in real life?
The “crazy” senses of mad dog are commonly seen as complimentary or “macho” nicknames in sports, military, and law enforcement contexts. Many popular media titles also use the term for this meaning, such as Amazon Prime’s Mad Dogs (2015–16) and the South Korean crime series Mag Dog (2017).
The “cheap wine” sense of mad dog is found in informal speech and writing especially from middle-aged to older adults. Popular websites often refer to MD 20/20 as Mad Dog or Mad Dog 20/20 when writing humorous articles about getting drunk.
Mad dog, or “threatening stare,” has inspired a slang verb increasingly found in colloquial speech and writing on social media in the late 2010s: to mad-dog, or “glare at someone in a mean or judgmental manner.”
More examples of mad dog:
“I’m printing like a mad dog! Go press, go!”|
—@geekbert, December 2007
“Some waifish, subscription menswear box-wearing developer nerd just walked by my window and mad dogged me while expelling an enormous vape cloud and that’s pretty much 2018 in a nutshell”
—@danieltaylor, April 2018
This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.
How to use mad-dog in a sentence
Indeed, although he works here in the old town, he lives in the new part of the city where he walks his dog in the morning.The Photographer Who Gave Up Manhattan for Marrakech|Liza Foreman|January 6, 2015|DAILY BEAST
Up till then I was just a dog-assed heavy, one of the posse.The Story Behind Lee Marvin’s Liberty Valance Smile|Robert Ward|January 3, 2015|DAILY BEAST
When he has called the police in the past, they have not responded, or responded “mad late.”Ground Zero of the NYPD Slowdown|Batya Ungar-Sargon|January 1, 2015|DAILY BEAST
From righteous fury to faux indignation, everything we got mad about in 2014—and how outrage has taken over our lives.The Daily Beast’s Best Longreads, Dec 15-21, 2014|William Boot|December 21, 2014|DAILY BEAST
The house decays around Amelia and Samuel, their world narrows and becomes mad, undealable with.Grief: The Real Monster in The Babadook|Tim Teeman|December 19, 2014|DAILY BEAST
A little boy of four was moved to passionate grief at the sight of a dead dog taken from a pond.Children's Ways|James Sully
A was an Archer, who shot at a frog; B was a Butcher, and had a great dog.
The dog stood with hanging head and tail, as if ashamed he had let so many of his enemies get away unharmed.
These words were uttered in a guarded whisper by a boy about seventeen years of age, to a great dog that stood by his side.
At the word of command, the dog crouched down, his whole body quivering with excitement.