a scolding, vicious woman; hag; shrew.

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)

Synonyms for harridan

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

Related Words for harridan

shrew, vixen, woman, virago, strumpet, hag, crone

Examples from the Web for harridan

Contemporary Examples of harridan

  • She was suddenly convinced there was no reason to play Martha as harridan.

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    Liz Taylor's Secret Life

    William J. Mann

    October 19, 2009

Historical Examples of harridan

British Dictionary definitions for harridan



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