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’
    • ‘About every two years I find it hard to drag myself out of a real hole when the black dog comes calling for scraps.’
    • ‘So the black dog is snapping at my heels today, and the sun shines only on the outside.’
    • ‘You stole the sun from my heart but this film put it back and chased away the black dog too!’
    • ‘After today the trees get thin, it matters less where I have been, the black dog, silent, sinks back in after today has gone.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It brings on the black dog and makes me feel like my blood has been replaced by industrial waste.’
    • ‘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 want to play games with the black dog, daring him to bite me, that's my privilege, too.’
    • ‘If anyone's succeeded in taming their black dog, drop me a note sometime and let me know what worked for you.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Sadly the black dog that was snapping at my one remaining heel yesterday came back for a second bite this morning.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A job should help keep me stable, hold the black dog of depression at bay.’
    • ‘‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’


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.