from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of various small, chiefly insectivorous mammals of the family Soricidae, resembling a mouse but having a long pointed snout and small eyes and ears.
  • noun A woman regarded as an ill-tempered scold or nag.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To make evil; deprave.
  • To curse; beshrew.
  • noun A small insectivorous mammal of the genus Sorex or family Soricidæ; a shrew-mouse.
  • noun A wicked or evil person; a malignant person.
  • noun A woman of a perverse, violent, or malignant temper; a scold; a termagant.
  • noun An evil thing; a great danger.
  • noun A planet of evil or malignant aspect or influence.
  • Wicked; evil; ill-natured; unkind.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective obsolete Wicked; malicious.
  • noun Originally, a brawling, turbulent, vexatious person of either sex, but now restricted in use to females; a brawler; a scold.
  • noun (Zoöl.) Any small insectivore of the genus Sorex and several allied genera of the family Sorecidæ. In form and color they resemble mice, but they have a longer and more pointed nose. Some of them are the smallest of all mammals.
  • noun any shrewlike burrowing animal of the family Centetidæ, as the tendrac.
  • noun See under Elephant, Jumping, etc.
  • noun See Desman.
  • noun an aquatic West African insectivore (Potamogale velox) resembling a weasel in form and size, but having a large flattened and crested tail adapted for rapid swimming. It feeds on fishes.
  • noun a common large North American mole (Scalops aquaticus). Its fine, soft fur is gray with iridescent purple tints.
  • transitive verb obsolete To beshrew; to curse.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Any of numerous small mouselike, chiefly nocturnal, mammals of the family Soricidae.
  • noun An ill-tempered, nagging woman: a scold.
  • verb obsolete, transitive To beshrew; to curse.

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

  • noun a scolding nagging bad-tempered woman
  • noun small mouselike mammal with a long snout; related to moles


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

[Middle English shrewe, rascal, devil, evil creature, overbearing woman, from Old English scrēawa, shrewmouse.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old English scrēawa, of unknown origin.


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  • Madam, though I am one of those

    That every Spring use to compose,

    That is, add feet unto round Prose :

    Yet you further art disclose,

    And can, as every body knows,

    Add to those feet fine dainty toes.

    Satyrs add nails, but they are shrews,

    My Muse therefore no further goes,

    But for her feet craves shooes and hose.

    - Edward Herbert, 'A merry Rime sent to the Lady Wroth upon the Birth of my L. of Pembroke's Child, born in the Spring'.

    July 27, 2009