[ hahr-i-dn ]
/ ˈhɑr ɪ dn /


a scolding, vicious woman; hag; shrew.


Nearby words

  1. harpy eagle,
  2. harquebus,
  3. harquebusier,
  4. harrar,
  5. harrer,
  6. harrier,
  7. harriet,
  8. harrietta,
  9. harriman,
  10. harriman, edward henry

Origin of harridan

1690–1700; perhaps alteration of French haridelle thin, worn-out horse, large, gaunt woman (compared with the initial element of haras stud farm, though derivation is unclear)

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for harridan

British Dictionary definitions for harridan


/ (ˈhærɪdən) /


a scolding old woman; nag

Word Origin for harridan

C17: of uncertain origin; perhaps related to French haridelle, literally: broken-down horse; of obscure origin

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

Word Origin and History for harridan



1700, "one that is half Whore, half Bawd" ["Dictionary of the Canting Crew"]; "a decayed strumpet" [Johnson], probably from French haridelle "a poore tit, or leane ill-favored jade," [Cotgrave, 1611], in French from 16c., of unknown origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper