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Meaner than

Posted by Lewis on October 14, 2004

In Reply to: Leroy Brown posted by Acme on October 14, 2004

: : : : : : : : : This may be simply a US expression, but it describes anyone who is just a mean son-of-a-gun. (being PC here) The comparison with the junkyard dog refers to the guard dogs used to patrol wrecked auto parts lots where the losses to midnight thievery would be great without the dogs presence. They are usually Dobermans or German Shepards, and are bred and trained to be rather intimidating and downright dangerous.
: : : : : : : : : Is this used elsewhere in the English speaking world?

: : : : : : : : My old friend wrote this song years ago and mentioned your 'junkyard dog.'

: : : : : : : : Leroy Brown by Jim Croce

: : : : : : : : Well the South side of Chicago
: : : : : : : : Is the baddest part of town
: : : : : : : : And if you go down there
: : : : : : : : You better just beware
: : : : : : : : Of a man named Leroy Brown

: : : : : : : : Now Leroy more than trouble
: : : : : : : : You see he stand 'bout six foot four
: : : : : : : : All the downtown ladies call him "Treetop Lover"
: : : : : : : : All the mens just call him "Sir"

: : : : : : : : And it's bad, bad Leroy Brown
: : : : : : : : The baddest man in the whole damn town
: : : : : : : : Badder than old King Kong
: : : : : : : : And meaner than a junkyard dog

: : : : : : : : Now Leroy he a gambler
: : : : : : : : And he like his fancy clothes
: : : : : : : : And he like to wave his diamond rings
: : : : : : : : In front of everybody's nose
: : : : : : : : He got a custom Continental
: : : : : : : : He got an Eldorado too
: : : : : : : : He got a 32 gun in his pocket for fun
: : : : : : : : He got a razor in his shoe

: : : : : : : : And it's bad, bad Leroy Brown
: : : : : : : : The baddest man in the whole damn town
: : : : : : : : Badder than old King Kong
: : : : : : : : And meaner than a junkyard dog

: : : : : : : : Well Friday bout a week ago
: : : : : : : : Leroy shootin' dice
: : : : : : : : And at the edge of the bar
: : : : : : : : Sat a girl named Doris
: : : : : : : : And ooh that girl looked nice
: : : : : : : : Well he cast his eyes upon her
: : : : : : : : And the trouble soon began
: : : : : : : : And Leroy Brown learned a lesson
: : : : : : : : 'Bout messin' with the wife of a jealous man

: : : : : : : : And it's bad, bad Leroy Brown
: : : : : : : : The baddest man in the whole damned town
: : : : : : : : Badder than old King Kong
: : : : : : : : And meaner than a junkyard dog,

: : : : : : : : Well the two men took to fightin'
: : : : : : : : And when they pulled them from the floor
: : : : : : : : Leroy looked like a jigsaw puzzle
: : : : : : : : With a couple of pieces gone

: : : : : : : : And it's bad, bad Leroy Brown
: : : : : : : : The baddest man in the whole damn town
: : : : : : : : Badder than old King Kong
: : : : : : : : And meaner than a junkyard dog

: : : : : : : I love that song. As soon as Ward mentioned this line, it was this Jim Croce song that sprang to mind.

: : : : : :
: : : : : : I agree, it is known in the UK and Ireland, but solely because of that song. I doubt that anyone would actually use it in natural speech.

: : : : : : DFG

: : : : : I was fortunate to see Jim Croce's only English concert and remember it to this day. A terrific writer and performer! What a great privilege to have known him, SR.
: : : : : I don't think the phrase is common in England. We do have an interesting phrase about dogs, 'as fit as a butcher's dog'.

: : : : I'd forgotten that one Henry. My dad used to use that one too, obviously one of the many many legacies of our heritage (although only older generations - I doubt that my 11 year-old stepdaughter's ever heard it.) And I also agree with both Henry and David that we don't use the 'junkyard dog' saying here. If I say this to anyone they immediately think of that song.

: : : I have a minor mondegreen to report. I always heard the line as "Baddest man in the whole downtown." Maybe it was bowdlerized for radio play?

: : It doesn't look that way.

: Two girls were at the pearly gates and the head angel asked how they had died.
: One said, 'I died in a car crash'.
: The other said.........'I died from the clap'
: The angel said, you can't die from the clap.
: The second girl said -- "You can if you gives it to Leroy"
: Leroy was one bad dude!

we do sometimes use the expression "meaner than a scrapyard dog" as the British also use vicious animals to guard junkyards (we call them 'scrapyards'). we often call them 'greasy dogs' too - because their fur tends to get, well, greasy.
Dickens has that kind of creature as the pet of Bill Sykes in "Oliver Twist" from what I recall - I think mean 'muthas' have always tended to have vicious dogs as a status symbol.
The variation in "Snatch" (the follow-up to "Lock, Stock and 2 smoking barrels") was for the hard-case to have pigs - so they could eat the evidence of killings. Nasty touch!