Words at Play : Top 10 Rare & Amusing Insults, Vol. 2

#7: Harridan

Definition:

shrew; an ill-tempered, scolding woman

About the Word:

Unlike most words on this list, harridan is still used with some frequency.

For example, a review of the movie Black Swan describes the main character's mother as, "a real piece of work, an unhappy stage harridan out of Tennessee Williams whose dreams for her daughter are etched into the bitter, melting beauty of her aging face." (Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly, December 30, 2010)

Harridan may be a modification of the French haridelle, meaning "old horse" or "gaunt woman."

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