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[tur-muh-guh nt] /ˈtɜr mə gənt/
a violent, turbulent, or brawling woman.
(initial capital letter) a mythical deity popularly believed in the Middle Ages to be worshiped by the Muslims and introduced into the morality play as a violent, overbearing personage in long robes.
violent; turbulent; brawling; shrewish.
Origin of termagant
1175-1225; Middle English Termagaunt, earlier Tervagaunt, alteration of Old French Tervagan name of the imaginary deity
Related forms
termagantly, adverb
1. shrew, virago, harridan, scold. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for termagant
Historical Examples
  • They threw a rope over my shoulders from behind, and I felt the foot of one termagant in the small of my back as she hauled taut.

    Caves of Terror Talbot Mundy
  • The child must not be suffered to grow up into a termagant—you will admit that, I hope?

    Brother Copas Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch
  • Mary was placed in the charge of Shrewsbury and his termagant spouse, Bess of Hardwick.

  • There are two claimants on the Milanese, then; the Spanish termagant, and he?

  • Mine gave me the very mare we're driving—half-sister to termagant.

    Contraband G. J. Whyte-Melville
  • And I was the termagant who must have put it there, though I have no memory of doing so.

    The Prairie Child Arthur Stringer
  • A termagant wife, if such a law were to pass, would be a phoenix.

    Clarissa, Volume 6 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • She may be a fool—she may be a termagant—she may be what you please—but—but she has money.

    The Cock and Anchor Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
  • It was the condition on which the King promised to dismiss the termagant.

    Court Beauties of Old Whitehall W. R. H. Trowbridge
  • About a fortnight afterwards, we spoke the termagant, and they gave us our craft.

    There She Blows! William Hussey Macy
British Dictionary definitions for termagant


  1. a shrewish woman; scold
  2. (as modifier): a termagant woman
Derived Forms
termagancy, noun
termagantly, adverb
Word Origin
C13: from earlier Tervagaunt, from Old French Tervagan, from Italian Trivigante; after an arrogant character in medieval mystery plays who was supposed to be a Muslim deity
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for termagant

c.1500, "violent, overbearing person" (especially of women), from Teruagant, Teruagaunt (c.1200), name of a fictitious Muslim deity appearing in medieval morality plays, from Old French Tervagant, a proper name in "Chanson de Roland" (c.1100), of uncertain origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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