Man’s Best Friend – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Do you need a phrase to describe your beloved dog and the close bond between you? “Man’s best friend” shows you can always trust your canine companion.

Keep reading to learn more about this popular idiom’s history and meaning and discover how to use it in a sentence.


The idiom “man’s best friend” refers to a dog or a group of dogs. It can also describe the lifelong relationship between humans and their dogs.

People use the saying “man’s best friend” to show that dogs are more than just pets.

Example Usage

Are you interested in using the phrase “man’s best friend” in a sentence? These examples show you how:

  • “Are you looking for a new pet to keep you company? A dog doesn’t only protect you, but also keeps you happy — dogs are man’s best friends after all!”
  • Man’s best friend is an unconditionally loving creature that will help you out no matter what. While friends may come and go in life, your dog will always be by your side.”
  • “Losing my dog was one of the worst experiences I ever had. My dog wasn’t just man’s best friend, but also mine.”
  • “My neighbor Terry absolutely despises dogs and even told me to get rid of mine because it was too loud for him. How could I possibly do something like that to man’s best friend?”


An American lawyer, George Graham, first used the idiom “man’s best friend” in 1869 while addressing the Supreme Court.

After a neighbor shot a man’s cherished black and tan coon hound, he wanted justice and sued the shooter. The court case became well known after the layer said, “Gentlemen of the jury, a man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and poverty, in health and sickness.

A statue of Old Drum now stands in front of the court in honor of the faithful dog.

Humans and dogs have worked together for thousands of years now, and the close companionship between us and our dogs stretches further back than the court case.

We don’t know precisely when dogs were first domesticated. Still, a burial site from 14,000 years ago located in Germany is the final resting place of the oldest known domesticated dog.

People mainly used dogs for hunting and defense until recently, when keeping dogs as pets became common. The relationship between dogs and humans was mutually protective, as the dog kept threats at bay and the human thanked the canine by offering food and shelter.

Phrases Similar to Man’s Best Friend

Other idioms that mention dogs include:

  • You can’t teach an old dog new tricks— you can’t teach someone already set in their ways something new.
  • Barking dogs never bite— a phrase to describe someone who is “all talk and no action.”
  • Dog it — judging someone for doing something.
  • Making puppy eyes [at someone] — looking at a person with a sad and pleading facial expression.

Phrases Opposite to Man’s Best Friend

The idiom “man’s best friend” doesn’t have any antonyms. However, people who despise dogs might call them their “worst enemy.”

What Is the Correct Saying?

The correct way to use this idiom is “man’s best friend.” You can use it to describe to your own dog, dogs as a whole, or another person’s dog.

Ways People May Say Man’s Best Friend Incorrectly

English learners may think the saying “man’s best friend” refers to a person, not a dog. An incorrect way of using this idiom would be to refer to a person as “man’s best friend”.

Man’s best friend doesn’t mean your dog is literally your best friend, either. When people say “man’s best friend,” they may still value their human friends more than their dog.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Man’s Best Friend

You can use “man’s best friend” as a synonym for “dog,” especially if you want to introduce variety to your speech or writing. Of course, you can also call your own dog “man’s best friend.”


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