dog in manger

Cultural Dictionary

dog in the manger definition


A person who spitefully refuses to let someone else benefit from something for which he or she has no personal use: “We asked our neighbor for the fence posts he had left over, but, like a dog in the manger, he threw them out rather than give them to us.” The phrase comes from one of Aesop's fables, about a dog lying in a manger full of hay. When an ox tries to eat some hay, the dog bites him, despite the fact that the hay is of no use to the dog.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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