Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A quarrelsome, scolding woman; a shrew.
  • adj. Shrewish; scolding.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A quarrelsome, scolding woman, especially one who is old and shrewd.
  • adj. Quarrelsome and scolding or censorious; shrewish.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Tumultuous; turbulent; boisterous; furious; quarrelsome; scolding.
  • n. An imaginary being supposed by the Christians to be a Moslem deity or false god. He is represented in the ancient moralities, farces, and puppet shows as extremely vociferous and tumultous.
  • n. A boisterous, brawling, turbulent person; -- formerly applied to both sexes, now only to women.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. [capitalized] An imaginary deity, supposed to have been worshiped by the Mohammedans, and introduced into the moralities and other shows, in which he figured as a most violent and turbulent personage.
  • n. A turbulent, brawling person, male or female.
  • n. A boisterous, brawling, or turbulent woman; a shrew; a virago; a scold.
  • Violent; turbulent; boisterous; quarrelsome; scolding; of women, shrewish.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a scolding nagging bad-tempered woman

Etymologies

From Middle English Termagaunt, imaginary Muslim deity portrayed as a violent and overbearing character in medieval mystery plays, alteration of Tervagant, from Old French.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Termagant. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Chapati Mystery a blog by Sepoy, "a doctoral candidate in History and South Asian Languages and Civilizations department at the University of Chicago" has a great post about the history of the word termagant 'a quarrelsome, scolding woman; a shrew.'

    languagehat.com: TERMAGANT.

  • "Lord! what a termagant is your pretty cousin, Mr. Mallock!" said my companion when we were out of doors again.

    Oddsfish!

  • Do I feel bad that I was done in by a 13-year-old boy and didn't know that "termagant" means me at times ... a quarrelsome woman?

    NBC Treats Word Games Like the Olympic Games

  • I'd never heard "termagant" before, I'll have to look it up :

    In Defense of Bitterness

  • I am particularly fond of the word "termagant," so if you're an AF reading this post, do feel free to use that word as a descriptor for me.

    In Defense of Bitterness

  • If it had the personality of a jay or a gull I would more readily believe there was a meaningful connection with "termagant".

    languagehat.com: TERMAGANT.

  • Petermann Etterlin, one of the early sixteenth-century Swiss authors who told the tale of William Tell, also wrote of how regional Governor Winkelried killed one of the termagant dragons: he wrapped thorny branches around a long lance and pushed this into the dragon's open mouth; then he finished off the beast with his sword.

    Richard Bangs: Here Be Dragons: Mt. Pilatus in Switzerland, Part 3

  • And the woman was a termagant — at least so I've been told.

    A DAY'S LODGING

  • Her eldest son, Alec, returns home with his termagant wife when their house collapses.

    Men Should Weep - review

  • Is this change from termagant to Good Housekeeping mom of 1945 real?

    Archive 2009-11-01

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "fascinating" is right, Milosrdenstvi! what a journey.

    June 28, 2009

  • Have a look at the Wikipedia article. What a fascinating etymology!

    June 27, 2009

  • She is of a good family; and as for her temper, I can assure you it is unparalleled for evenness and sweetness. None of your termagant mistresses, never to be pleased, but always grumbling and scolding about everything, making the house ring with their clack, and fretting poor servants to a thread, whose places, in short, are a hell upon earth!

    - Lesage, The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane, tr. Smollett, bk 4 ch. 7

    September 18, 2008

  • from Trollope

    October 1, 2007