- a woman of violent temper and speech; termagant.
Origin of shrew1
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
- any of several small, mouselike insectivores of the genus Sorex and related genera, having a long, sharp snout.
Origin of shrew2
Examples from the Web for shrew
Read another way, she is a horrible mother, an uptight snob, and a bit of a shrew.Colm Toibin Describes The Creation Of His Quiet Masterpiece ‘Nora Webster’
November 3, 2014
All the parts for women are awful, and chauvinistic and they have to play a shrew.The Sex Scenes in ‘The Spectacular Now’ Are Awkward, Honest, and All Too Real
August 2, 2013
Her popularity is up, her guard is down, and her image as a shrew is a relic of the past.How Hillary Clinton Got Hot After Years of Being Stuck With a Cold Image
April 13, 2012
But Mirandy was no shrew; she was simply troubled about many things.Meadow Grass
The jade had to come to him, at last, completely subdued, as in the “Taming of the Shrew.”Blood and Iron
John Hubert Greusel
His wife is a shrew, a termagant, who embitters every hour of his existence.The Lion's Skin
Columbine snapped like the shrew she masked: "You little sneak!"Nobody
Louis Joseph Vance
The ii point is that, if a woman have a sharp nose, then most commenly she is a shrew.Shakespeare Jest-Books;
- Also called: shrewmouse any small mouse-like long-snouted mammal, such as Sorex araneus (common shrew), of the family Soricidae: order Insectivora (insectivores)See also water shrew Related adjective: soricine
- a bad-tempered or mean-spirited woman
Word Origin and History for shrew
small insectivorous mammal, Old English screawa "shrew-mouse," unknown outside English, and "the absence of evidence for the word between the OE. period and the 16th c is remarkable" [OED]. Perhaps from Proto-Germanic *skraw-, from PIE *skreu- "to cut; cutting tool" (see shred (n.)), in reference to the shrew's pointed snout. Alternative Old English 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 (cf. beshrew). Paired with sheep from 1560s as the contrasting types of wives.