har·​ri·​dan ˈher-ə-dən How to pronounce harridan (audio)

Examples of harridan in a Sentence

the film portrays the figure skater's mother as a strict and controlling harridan
Recent Examples on the Web Richard Millet became a kind of referendum on what wasn’t yet termed cancel culture, with Ernaux denounced as a harridan intent on enforcing politically correct censorship at the expense of a man’s career. Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker, 14 Nov. 2022 Throughout her tenure as House speaker, Pelosi has been painted by Trump supporters as an unhinged harridan: crazy, conniving and hungry for power. Monica Hesse, Washington Post, 14 Oct. 2022 Allen’s account paints Mia Farrow as an abusive, baby-crazed harridan who beat and brainwashed her many children. Barbara Vandenburgh, USA TODAY, 25 Mar. 2020 Still, for a generation brought up to smile in the face of almost any affront or risk being tarred as a harridan, older women’s indignation seems ripe for reassessment. New York Times, 30 July 2019 Surely Socrates, married to that many-years-younger harridan Xanthippe, would be in line for a Nobel. Joseph Epstein, WSJ, 11 May 2018 Better yet, the pervasive myth that women become shriveled harridans after 30 couldn’t be further from the truth. Alana Massey, SELF, 19 Dec. 2017 The praise was largely glowing for Janney’s turn as Tonya Harding’s mother, LaVona Golden, a harridan with a sharp tongue and, at times, a parakeet on her shoulder. Richard Lawson, HWD, 15 Sep. 2017 As the dispossessed Queen Margaret, whose prophetic curses haunt the play, Ms. Redgrave is not the usual shrieking harridan but a bone-weary old woman, whose madness is steeped in a quiet, blisteringly bitter fatalism. Ben Brantley, New York Times, 1 Aug. 2016

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'harridan.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


perhaps modification of French haridelle old horse, gaunt woman

First Known Use

1678, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of harridan was in 1678

Dictionary Entries Near harridan

Cite this Entry

“Harridan.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/harridan. Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

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