having the disposition of a shrew.

Origin of shrewish

Middle English word dating back to 1325–75; see origin at shrew1, -ish1
Related formsshrew·ish·ly, adverbshrew·ish·ness, nounun·shrew·ish, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for shrewish

ill-tempered, irritable, peevish, petulant, quarrelsome, nagging

Examples from the Web for shrewish

Contemporary Examples of shrewish

  • As played by Jessalyn Gilsig, Terri is “the shrewish, nagging wife from hell,” as Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune wrote.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Glee's Harmful Simplicity

    Andy Dehnart

    May 17, 2010

Historical Examples of shrewish

  • But that same reseit, iff your Honner so please, to cure a shrewish wife.

    Clarissa, Volume 3 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • Do they not sometimes get called waspish and shrewish by virtue of their very chastity?

  • Look at her—isn't it awfully good—just like a shrewish woman.

    The Rainbow

    D. H. (David Herbert) Lawrence

  • A lackey—That is Jeppe on the Hill, who has the shrewish wife.

    Jeppe on the Hill

    Ludvig Holberg

  • He gets the hottest tea and the nicest morsels from the shrewish woman.


    James Huneker

British Dictionary definitions for shrewish



(esp of a woman) bad-tempered and nagging
Derived Formsshrewishly, adverbshrewishness, noun
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 shrewish

late 14c., "wicked, malignant," from shrew + -ish. Of women, "malignant and scolding," from 1560s. Related: Shrewishly; shrewishness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper