shrewlike

shrew

1 [shroo]
noun
a woman of violent temper and speech; termagant.

Origin:
1200–50; Middle English; special use of shrew2

shrewlike, adjective


virago, nag, scold.
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World English Dictionary
shrew (ʃruː)
 
n
1.  See also water shrew Also called: shrewmouse any small mouse-like long-snouted mammal, such as Sorex araneus (common shrew), of the family Soricidae: order Insectivora (insectivores)Related: soricine
2.  a bad-tempered or mean-spirited woman
 
Related: soricine
 
[Old English scrēawa; related to Old High German scrawaz dwarf, Icelandic skröggr old man, Norwegian skrugg dwarf]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

shrew
"small mammal," O.E. screawa "shrew-mouse," unknown outside English, perhaps from P.Gmc. *skreu- "to cut" (see shred). Alternative O.E. word for it was scirfemus, from sceorfan "to gnaw." The meaning "peevish, malignant, clamorous, spiteful, vexatious, turbulent woman" [Johnson]
is late 14c., from earlier sense of "spiteful person" (male or female), mid-13c., traditionally said to derive from some supposed malignant influence of the animal, which was once believed to have a venomous bite and was held in superstitious dread. Shrewish "scolding" is from 1560s, originally "wicked, evil" (late 14c.).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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