Word of the Day

Thursday, December 14, 2000

harridan

\HAIR-uh-din\ , noun;
1.
A worn-out strumpet; a vixenish woman; a hag.
Quotes:
With the insight of hindsight, I'd have liked to have been able to protect my mother from the domineering old harridan, with her rough tongue and primitive sense of justice, but I did not see it like that, then.
-- Angela Carter, Shaking a Leg
Whatever compassion we may feel towards Seraphie, charged with managing the Beyle household and provided with little in the way of emotional or material recompense, evidence scarcely softens Stendhal's portrait of an ignorant, vindictive, mean-spirited harridan.
-- Jonathan Keates, Stendhal
Even before that, for the first year and a half, as reports and rumors seeped out that she was a harridan, yelling and throwing things at subordinates as well as at her husband and his aides, she would often think to herself, "What's going on here? Why are some of these people slandering me or my husband on a daily basis? Why is all this stuff happening?"
-- David Maraniss, "First Lady of Paradox", Washington Post, January 15, 1995
As the vulgar, scornful, desperate Martha, Miss Hagen makes a tormented harridan horrifyingly believable.
-- Howard Taubman, "The Theater: Albee's 'Who's Afraid'", New York Times, October 15, 1962
Origin:
Harridan probably comes from French haridelle, "a worn-out horse, a gaunt woman."
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