Fun fact – there are no dogs in War Dogs. Then why does the movie have such a title? It all boils down to language, and one of the definitions of the term “war dogs.” There’s war in the film though, so at least half of the title can be found in the film.

So what does that term mean? The Popping Post reveals the results of in-depth linguistic research to help you widen your vocabulary. The next time you use the term “war dogs,” you could mean any of five different things.

1. A literal dog trained for war

A dog and his soldier. Credit: NBC News

A dog and his soldier. Credit: NBC News

The ancient Egyptians and Persians used war dogs to break the ranks of men. Yes, they’re smaller than humans, but they’re far more vicious. If guard dogs can maim a human being, imagine what would happen if we unleashed an army of war dogs upon an unsuspecting enemy? The worst part is that dogs are also “man’s best friend,” so it’s heartbreaking to see an army of dog mow down their (former) best friends.

Maybe we should start conscripting all those wayward stray dogs into the Singapore Armed Forces – they’d be super effective!

2. An experienced soldier

A British soldier. Credit: Telegrap

A British soldier. Credit: The Telegraph

Sometimes we call a very experienced person an “old dog.” So in this sense, a “war dog” is someone who’s very experienced in war. War dogs in this instance are veteran soldiers who have seen many wars. Don’t forget that there’s a high chance that you’ll die in a war, especially in ancient times, so for a soldier to have lived through several wars means that he’s seen, first-hand, how to survive a war.

They might not be victories, but as long as you live to fight another day, that’s what counts.

3. A warmonger

Demands for war! Credit: We Know Your Dreams

Demands for war! Credit: We Know Your Dreams

According to Merriam-Webster, a war dog is also a person who threatens or demands a war – in other words, a warmonger. We assume this refers to politicians, who sometimes use the threat of war in “negotiations.” It makes sense because “dog” can also be a pejorative term, which explains its negative connotations here. Calling someone a “dog” can also be a slur, and that fits perfectly with this definition of “war dog.”

Hope there aren’t too many of this type of war dogs in the world though!

4. A mercenary

British soldiers who become mercenaries in the fight against ISIS. Credit: RT

British soldiers who become mercenaries in the fight against ISIS. Credit: RT

They’re actually described as the “dogs of war”, which is a term taken from Julius Caesar (the Shakespearean play). The full line is even cooler as it goes “Cry havoc!/And let slip the dogs of war!” so the dogs of war are released upon a resounding battle cry. The term back then meant soldiers, but it eventually evolved into its current usage in modern English, where it means mercenaries.

I don’t suppose the mercenaries mind much, they wouldn’t be mercenaries otherwise!

5. Arms dealers who are at the bottom feeder level

Lots of guns. Credit: The New York Times

Lots of guns. Credit: The New York Times

And if you thought War Dogs wasn’t educational, you’d be wrong! We learn in the film that “war dogs” are the term given to small scale arms dealers, those that pick up the scraps of deals that the larger arms dealers can’t handle. It’s like calling them muggles, and that’s exactly what the other arms dealers think of the protagonists in War Dogs.

Would you want to be called a war dog?

War Dogs. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

War Dogs. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

But being an arms dealer (even if you’re as low level as a war dog) is hard work, and Efraim (Jonah Hill) and David (Miles Teller) have to work their way up the food chain before they finally become successful in War Dogs! Although what they’re doing is illegal, you can’t help but root for these underdog war dogs as they fight their way to the top.

What happens next? You’ll have to find out for yourself!

 

Credits: NBC News, The Telegraph, We Know Your Dreams, RT, The New York Times, Golden Village Cinemas