One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
What is the origin of the phrase ‘hair of the dog’?
The expression the hair of the dog, for an alcoholic drink taken to cure a hangover, is a shortening of ‘a hair of the dog that bit you’. It comes from an old belief that someone bitten by a rabid dog could be cured of rabies by taking a potion containing some of the dog's hair. The correlation suggests that, although alcohol may be to blame for the hangover (as the dog is for the attack), a smaller portion of the same will, paradoxically, act as a cure. There is, it should be added, no scientific evidence that the cure for either a hangover or rabies actually works.
From Oxford Dictionary of Word Origins ©2010.
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