Devil Dog is a nickname for a United States Marine.
Multiple publications of the United States Marine Corps claim that the nickname “Teufel Hunden”[a] – “Devil Dogs” in English – was bestowed upon the Marines by German soldiers at the Battle of Belleau Wood in June 1918 (refer to World War I).
However, on 14 April 1918, six weeks before the battle began, hundreds of US newspapers ran a fanciful wire service report that stated “the Teutons have handed the sea soldiers [a nickname] . . . They call the American scrappers ‘teufel hunden,’ which in English means ‘devil dogs.'” Journalist H.L. Mencken wrote in 1921 that the term was the invention of an American war correspondent. Robert V. Aquilina of the United States Marine Corps History Division has stated that while there is no evidence of German use of the term, it has nevertheless become entrenched in Marine Corps lore.
“Devil Dog” was also the nickname of the amphibious assault ship USS Belleau Wood, as well as the mascot of the Quantico Marines football team.
- The correct German spellings are “Teufelshund” (singular) and “Teufelshunde” (plural).
- However, while “Teufelshund” is a grammatically correct word, the more likely choice for a German speaker would be “Höllenhund” – “hellhound” in English – casting further doubt on the origin story.