Definition of black dog in English:

black dog


  • A metaphorical representation of melancholy or depression.

    ‘I may still have a black dog in me, but I manage to keep him corralled’
    ‘I'm happy but the black dogs are there, lurking round the corner’
    • ‘After today the trees get thin, it matters less where I have been, the black dog, silent, sinks back in after today has gone.’
    • ‘Sadly the black dog that was snapping at my one remaining heel yesterday came back for a second bite this morning.’
    • ‘Winston Churchill called it his black dog, that was always lurking in the background, but whatever your own personal metaphor is, one thing is for sure - depression is alive and well in Ireland.’
    • ‘It hasn't been a good week, and the black dog is curled at my feet with no sign of getting up.’
    • ‘‘I gotta work my way away from the black dog of depression daily,’ he said at the time.’
    • ‘His imagination is not on a short rein but a secure one, like one of those elastic leashes, attached, in his case, to a very black dog indeed.’
    • ‘A job should help keep me stable, hold the black dog of depression at bay.’
    • ‘That way the day fills, the weeks pass, and there's little time for the long silences into which black dogs are liable to creep and make themselves at home.’
    • ‘You stole the sun from my heart but this film put it back and chased away the black dog too!’
    • ‘So the black dog is snapping at my heels today, and the sun shines only on the outside.’
    • ‘Brave people, who were fighting the black dog, want to experience the small and humble reality that so many of us take for granted, dignity.’
    • ‘In Australia there has recently been recognition of the black dog of depression since several politicians and judges confessed to suffering from it.’
    • ‘If I could let go of all this, if I could cut off the black dog that's got its teeth in my arm, maybe I could fly.’
    • ‘The black dog tells me that it's aiming to stick around, to which I reply that I'm planning on getting a cat, whose soft fur, quick pulse and disdainful love will absorb infinitely more of my attention than it could ever dream of receiving.’
    • ‘About every two years I find it hard to drag myself out of a real hole when the black dog comes calling for scraps.’
    • ‘Even in my darkest hours, when the black dog of depression settles on my normally sunny countenance, I console myself with sympathetic thoughts of those even worse off than myself.’
    • ‘If I want to play games with the black dog, daring him to bite me, that's my privilege, too.’
    • ‘It brings on the black dog and makes me feel like my blood has been replaced by industrial waste.’
    • ‘If anyone's succeeded in taming their black dog, drop me a note sometime and let me know what worked for you.’
    • ‘He, too, could be plagued by the black dog, but somehow those dark moods became curses that brought benefit to his team even while he was in despair.’


Late 18th century (earlier as a name used during Queen Anne's reign for a bad shilling). Winston Churchill used the expression when alluding to his periodic bouts of depression.