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termagant

[tur-muh-guh nt]
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noun
  1. a violent, turbulent, or brawling woman.
  2. (initial capital letter) a mythical deity popularly believed in the Middle Ages to be worshiped by the Muslims and introduced into the morality play as a violent, overbearing personage in long robes.
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adjective
  1. violent; turbulent; brawling; shrewish.
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Origin of termagant

1175–1225; Middle English Termagaunt, earlier Tervagaunt, alteration of Old French Tervagan name of the imaginary deity
Related formster·ma·gant·ly, adverb

Synonyms

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1. shrew, virago, harridan, scold.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for termagant

Historical Examples

  • His wife is a shrew, a termagant, who embitters every hour of his existence.

    The Lion's Skin

    Rafael Sabatini

  • The child must not be suffered to grow up into a termagant—you will admit that, I hope?

    Brother Copas

    Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch

  • This bride was a canting hypocrite of sixty-three, covetous, and a termagant.

  • She seemed to be a sort of termagant, and she said nobody said that about her unless you told them.

  • There are two claimants on the Milanese, then; the Spanish Termagant, and he?


British Dictionary definitions for termagant

termagant

noun
    1. a shrewish woman; scold
    2. (as modifier)a termagant woman
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Derived Formstermagancy, nountermagantly, adverb

Word Origin

C13: from earlier Tervagaunt, from Old French Tervagan, from Italian Trivigante; after an arrogant character in medieval mystery plays who was supposed to be a Muslim deity
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 termagant

n.

c.1500, "violent, overbearing person" (especially of women), from Teruagant, Teruagaunt (c.1200), name of a fictitious Muslim deity appearing in medieval morality plays, from Old French Tervagant, a proper name in "Chanson de Roland" (c.1100), of uncertain origin.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper