cynanthropy

Woof. Ruff. Grruffff! Wrrf wrf woof wuf grf grruff grf gruh rruh rurf ruh wuurh ruwww! WRUFF! Huhh huhh huhh huhh huhh huhh huhh huhh

Oh, sorry. Just mistook myself for a dog there for moment. Much canine. Very dog. Such bark. Wow.

Oops, sorry, did it again. Different kind of dog this time.

I don’t really think I’m a dog much. (A cat, sure, all the time, though.) But some people do seem to imagine themselves as such, or at least to embody themselves as dogs in fantasy (advance notice: this video has rude language):

I’m not sure whether anthropomorphizing dogs, as in the famous poker-playing-pooches pictures, counts, but there is a word for cynanthropizing humans.

Which I kinda gave away there, didn’t I? Yes, it’s cynanthropy.

You may be familiar with lycanthropy: a human becoming a wolf, or at least believing it’s happened. The English word for one such is werewolf (the were is from an old Germanic word meaning ‘man’; it’s not the past tense of was). Well, the English word for a cynanthrope is weredog. Though, really, if you want to go with the Old English roots, it should be werehound—the word dog is an interloper from we’re not sure where.

But speaking of roots, you may have been expecting cananthropy. After all, the classical root for ‘dog’ is can-, right? As in canine, cave canem, et cetera? Well, yes, that’s the Latin root, but anthrop- is from Greek, and the classical Greek root for ‘dog’ is κυν-, which passed through Latin as cyn-, and is seen most often in modern English in cynical (there’s a story behind that, but it’s not today’s word).

So you see what a bit of dogged research can dig up. But is cynanthropy relevant? Yes, it seems it is.

Not that there are packs of weredogs roving around. But in the face of the cynicism of the age, some people are attracted to the ingenuous eagerness of pooches. I don’t mean that they’re dressing up as dogs – though, yes, that too, sometimes, for various reasons –

– but they’re pretending to be dogs on social media. There are, for example, Twitter accounts presenting as dogs, and expressing all the simple wonder and emotional dependency that tend to be projected on dogs. 

And, hey, why not? On the Internet, nobody knows you’re not a dog

One response to “cynanthropy

  1. Fascinating! I’d love to know: is there a feline equivalent? ‘Catanthropy’ has a nicer flow than felinanthropy but neither seem probable…

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