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Word of the Day
Friday, November 14, 2003

Definitions for termagant

  1. A scolding, nagging, bad-tempered woman; a shrew.
  2. Overbearing; shrewish; scolding.

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Citations for termagant
The termagant who had dragged him out on long, boring walks, who had tried in vain to censor his reading, who had labelled him an impious liar and criminal, was dead at last, and the boy, hearing a servant say 'she has passed away', sank to his knees on the kitchen floor to thank God for so great a deliverance. Jonathan Keates, Stendhal
Family legend recounts that Sister Garrison once quite literally brokeup her husband's drinking party by smashing the offending bottles, and this is sometimes taken to mean that Abijah Garrison was driven to desert his family by his termagant of a wife. Henry Mayer, All on Fire
Origin of termagant
1175-1225
Termagant comes from Middle English Termagaunt, alteration of Tervagant, from Old French. Termagant was an imaginary Muslim deity represented in medieval morality plays as extremely violent and turbulent. By the sixteenth century, termagant was used for a boisterous, brawling, turbulent person of either sex, but eventually it came to refer only to women.