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From “hair of the dog that bit you”, a folk remedy for rabies by placing hair from the dog that bites one into the wound.[1][2] The use of the phrase as a metaphor for a hangover treatment dates at least to the 16th century.[3]

The principle of “curing like with like” has existed in various cultures historically; see hair of the dog at Wikipedia for details; the use of the phrase “hair of the dog” for a hangover cure dates to antiquity, an early form being found in the Ugaritic text KTU[4] 1.1114 line 29, where the chief god of the pantheon, 'i/el, takes some for his health. The usage is in turn a borrowing from Akkadian.[5]


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hair of the dog (uncountable)

  1. (idiomatic) An alcoholic drink, particularly when taken the morning after to cure a hangover.
    I'll be right back. I just need a little hair of the dog what bit me.
    • 1818, Sir Walter Scott, chapter 12, in Rob Roy:
      But with the morning cool repentance came. I felt, in the keenest manner, the violence and absurdity of my conduct, and was obliged to confess that wine and passion had lowered my intellects. . . . I descended to the breakfast hall, like a criminal to receive sentence. . . . [H]e poured out a large bumper of brandy, exhorting me to swallow "a hair of the dog that had bit me."
    • 1841, Charles Dickens, chapter 52, in Barnaby Rudge:
      Ha ha! Put a good face upon it, and drink again. Another hair of the dog that bit you, captain!

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  1. ^ Hair of the dog on MedTerms
  2. ^ Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1898): “In Scotland it is a popular belief that a few hairs of the dog that bit you applied to the wound will prevent evil consequences. Applied to drinks, it means, if overnight you have indulged too freely, take a glass of the same wine next morning to soothe the nerves. ‘If this dog do you bite, soon as out of your bed, take a hair of the tail in the morning.’”
  3. ^ "Poil de ce chien" in François Rabelais' 16th century pentology La Vie de Gargantua et Pantagruel, Book 5, Chapter XLVI
  4. ^ KTU means “Keilalphabetische Texte aus Ugaric” (Cuneiform Alphabet Text from Ugarit)
  5. ^ W.M. Schniedewind, J.H. Hunt, A Primer on Ugaritic, p. 121. Cambridge University Press, 2007. →ISBN.