From the movie Nightcrawler (2014)


I want you running my second van. Two crews. Half the area to cover. Now, I know what you're thinking. Half the money, right? You should be thinking, twice the sales. Because we're going to be the first at every scene. Why compete when we can work together? You can share my press cards. Puppy dog off my police connections. This is the big move, the next level. We can corner this whole thing.

What do you think that actually means?

  • From context, it clearly means "benefit from the use off", and in the even larger context (investigative reporting), it means the cops will give him tips on where news is breaking and maybe give him special access at the scene. As to why "puppy dog".... no idea. Reporter slang? Metaphor? As in the speaker, the prospective "boss", is the "big dog", and the police contacts are properly his, but the cops would recognize the listener as his employee, or "little dog", "puppy". – Dan Bron Oct 16 '15 at 5:59
  • Hi @DanBron, please post your comment as an answer so the question can be closed. Thanks! – cucumber_boy Nov 9 '15 at 15:55
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    I think it's used as a verb, similar to something like this: youtube.com/watch?v=ArPqY8kv1LM. Puppy dog face = food. – Damkerng T. Nov 16 '15 at 13:46

This is a metaphor, not a common expression in English, but is an unexpected, colloquial construct used to convey a feeling. I would interpret this as "benefit from" but in a way that conveys the feeling of the one reporter sharing food as one would to a puppy. It is combining an expression like "copy off my test" (where someone would be cheating) with the image of a cute puppy. It is prefaced by "Why compete when we can work together? You can share my press cards" which suggests that instead of working against each other, they could cooperate. Adding the image of a "puppy dog" suggests they could be pals, although it also conveys a subordinate relationship.

It is common in English for nouns to be used as verbs -- in fact for any part of speech to be used as another. A word may be with a shift in grammar as part of a metaphor and then later can become a standard part of the language.

"English is amenable to functional shift because current English has relatively few forms that identify a word as belonging to a particular grammatical category... a word that enters English as a member of one grammatical class can quickly shift to another class. Historically, this is what happened with instance, loot, stucco, and trash, all of which entered English as nouns but have become verbs as well." --Slang and Sociability: In-Group Language Among College Students

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It sounds like a reporter talking to another reporter offering him to share the workload and the credits of bringing the news. The first reporter has some police connections, which probably allow him to get first-hand information and alerts about happenings in the area they (the news crew) cover.

The "puppy dog" metaphor means "a warm and cuddly outcome" or "a future prize winner" (think of dog show). As to the preposition, "off", the meaning is "from" or "out of", similar to "pick a fruit off a tree".

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