Definitions

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

  • n. A woman regarded as scolding and vicious.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A vicious and scolding woman, especially an older one.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A worn-out strumpet; a vixenish woman; a hag.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An odious old woman; a hag; a vixenish woman.

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

  • n. a scolding (even vicious) old woman

Etymologies

Possibly from French haridelle, gaunt woman, old horse, nag.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Perhaps a modification of French haridelle ("old horse, nag"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The word "harridan" derives from the French word "haridelle" - a worn-out horse or nag.

    THE NEWS BLOG

  • I really thought before I used the word harridan to describe Senator Clinton's outburst.

    Hillary: "Shame On You, Barack Obama"

  • I recalled a harridan of satanic disposition old enough to have written the first drafts of most of her charges.

    Petty Pewter Gods

  • Look up "harridan" in the dictionary and Annie's picture looks back at you.

    Ann Coulter Loses It, Calls Elizabeth Edwards A "Harridan"

  • In this column, Dowd claims that conservatives were trying to paint Michelle Obama as a "harridan", but of course she offers absolutely no examples of how conservatives were attempting this feat.

    The Minority Report -

  • notmaxclifford - its just too ungallant to refer to Jenny as a 'harridan'.

    Its Goodbye to Humour.

  • No less a harridan for safety than the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has dubbed his campaign misguided.

    Driving Distraction

  • In my book, I refer to my mother as General Patton in pedal pushers, and frequently paint her as a shrieking harridan for whom water in the kitchen sink or unraked shag carpeting could produce bouts of rage: earsplitting, fist-shaking, God-summoning rage that fortunately predated the presence of guns in the suburban household.

    Eric Poole: She has Every Right to Kill Me

  • And they proceeded to blindly follow the heartless, shrewish harridan Margaret Thatcher.

    Martin Lewis: Murdoch Most Foul

  • Over the years, I'd gone from what I fondly imagined to be a switched-on, youngish-minded mum to a rancid, middle-aged harridan, glaring at shrieking texting huddles in the street – youngsters I didn't even know, but would consider lightly birching.

    It's all too easy to hate teens – try a little love instead | Barbara Ellen

Comments

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  • "Perhaps it is because feminists are still so busy cataloging past slights to Hillary that they have failed to mount a vivid defense of Michelle Obama, who has taken over from Hillary as the one conservatives like to paint as a harridan."

    The New York Times, Mr. Darcy Comes Courting, by Maureen Down, August 3, 2008

    August 3, 2008

  • i would say to a woman:
    you are a harry dan! OR
    you are a hairy dan!

    November 30, 2007