[ muhng-gruhl, mong- ]
/ ˈmʌŋ grəl, ˈmɒŋ- /
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Definition of mongrel

a dog of mixed or indeterminate breed.
any animal or plant resulting from the crossing of different breeds or varieties.
any cross between different things, especially if inharmonious or indiscriminate.
of mixed breed, nature, or origin; of or like a mongrel.
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Origin of mongrel

First recorded in 1425–75; late Middle English (once): heraldic term for a type of dog; equivalent to mong(e) “mixture” (Old English gemang;cf. mingle) + -rel

synonym study for mongrel

2. See hybrid.


mon·grel·ism, mon·grel·ness, nounmon·grel·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does mongrel mean?

The word mongrel is most commonly used to refer to a dog that’s a mix of breeds or whose breed is unknown. It’s used in the same way as the word mutt, and, like mutt, can be negative or ironically affectionate.  

However, mongrel is also a racist slur applied to people who are considered to be or who identify as mixed-race. The racist slur half-breed is used in the same way. Even when it’s applied to a person without regard to race, mongrel can still carry racist connotations, namely the implication that such a person’s behavior is like that of people whom racists consider inferior. 

Less commonly, mongrel is applied to animals other than dogs (and other living things, like plants) to indicate that they are a result of crossbreeding. It has traditionally also been used in more general ways (as both a noun and an adjective) in reference to anything that’s the result of combining multiple unlike sources, as in English is a mongrel language. Such uses are usually derogatory, implying that such things are impure or deficient

The word hybrid is a neutral way to describe plants and animals that are a result of crossbreeding or, in the case of nonliving things, some kind of combination.

Where does mongrel come from?

The first records of the word mongrel come from around 1425. It ultimately comes from the Old English gemang, meaning “mingle.”

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to mongrel?

  • mongrelism (noun)
  • mongrelly (adverb)
  • mongrelize (verb)

What are some synonyms for mongrel?

What are some words that share a root or word element with mongrel

What are some words that often get used in discussing mongrel?

How is mongrel used in real life?

When used as a term for a mixed-breed dog, mongrel can be used in a negative or ironically affectionate way. When applied to people, it can be an extremely offensive racist slur.

How to use mongrel in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for mongrel

/ (ˈmʌŋɡrəl) /

a plant or animal, esp a dog, of mixed or unknown breeding; a crossbreed or hybrid
taboo a person of mixed race
Australian and NZ sport toughness and physical aggressiona tall southpaw with plenty of mongrel
of mixed origin, breeding, character, etc

Derived forms of mongrel

mongrelism, nounmongrelly, adjective

Word Origin for mongrel

C15: from obsolete mong mixture; compare Old English gemong a mingling
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