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cartoon of a dog with a star and stripe docorated top hat on


running dog. (politics) A servile follower or lackey.

This is a translation of Mandarin, zu gu: zu, running + gu, dog.reference 1 The servility of dogs is explicit here and when applied to humans it clearly suggests that those so named lack independence of thought, dignity, and courage. What the running part has to do with this is not so clear to me. Perhaps the rhyming aspect of the original Mandarin gives the term special punch.

1. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth. 2000. Accessed from http://

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Running dog. (art) “Vitruvian scroll. A richly decorated (usually floriated) scroll ornament found in Roman and later architecture, and now named after the Roman architectural writer Vitruvius (active c. 46-30 BCE).”reference 2
2. Lucie-Smith, Edward. 1984. The Thames and Hudson Dictionary of Art Terms. London; New York: Thames and Hudson.
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Running Dog Nebula. (astronomy) Not your most famous nebula, like the Crab, for instance. The name is not even the only one applied to this “large complex of faint emission nebulosity is located in eastern Cassiopeia.” Sometimes it is called the “Heart Nebula” because it looks sort of heart-shaped depending upon the orientation. Sometimes it is referred to as one of the two “Double Nebulae.”reference 3 I am not sure where the other one is.
3. Zima, Wolfgang. 2002. IC 1805 Running Dog Nebula. AstroServerVienna. Institut für Astronomie der Universität Wien. Accessed Oct 1 2002 from http://www. koprolin/ Photo/ Neb/ Running_Dog.html.
About the illustrations: Figure 1 is a bland cartoonish dog in an Uncle Sam hat. © 2008 Jupiterimages Corporation.

Figure 2 shows one of those scrolls. © 2008 Jupiterimages Corporation.

Figure 3 courtesy of AstroServer Vienna.

see also: running with both hounds and hares; run with the big dogs
mad dog
Last updated: July 28, 2008
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