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ˈshrü How to pronounce shrew (audio)
 especially Southern  ˈsrü
: any of a family (Soricidae) of small chiefly nocturnal insectivores related to the moles and distinguished by a long pointed snout, very small eyes, and short velvety fur
: an ill-tempered scolding woman
shrewlike adjective


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shrewed; shrewing; shrews

transitive verb

: curse

Examples of shrew in a Sentence

Noun Rip Van Winkle went off into the mountains to escape his wife, a shrew who made his life miserable.
Recent Examples on the Web
They were likely excavated by shrews, Scofield says. Joshua Rapp Learn, Discover Magazine, 29 Apr. 2024 By selecting mammals as their theme, the filmmakers of the BBC’s Natural History Unit (NHU) have rich pickings, from the largest animal on Earth, the blue whale, to the tiny Etruscan shrew. Graeme Green, Smithsonian Magazine, 4 Apr. 2024 The shrews must consume a hefty meal every few hours, lest the animals starve. Max Bennett, Discover Magazine, 8 Feb. 2024 These carnivorous marsupials, which resemble a mousy shrew, have just three weeks to mate with as many females as possible. Jack Tamisiea, Scientific American, 25 Jan. 2024 Far larger than shrews, human children, and especially babies, need extra bundling for this very same reason. Max Bennett, Discover Magazine, 8 Feb. 2024 While their slimy coatings deter some would-be-predators, raccoons, opossums, snakes, moles, toads, shrews, turtles, ground beetles, and birds, such as ducks, starlings, and thrushes, devour them with gusto. Paul Richards, Field & Stream, 29 Feb. 2024 Most owls are content to feast on small mammals such as mice and shrews, said Seth Magle, director of the Urban Wildlife Institute at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. Megan Marples, CNN, 9 Feb. 2024 The cub had pulled the shrew out of the sand and had been knocking it around like a ball. Cecilia Rodriguez, Forbes, 28 Nov. 2023

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

Word History



Middle English shrewe evil or scolding person, from Old English scrēawa shrew (animal)

First Known Use


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of shrew was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near shrew

Cite this Entry

“Shrew.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


: any of numerous small mammals that are related to the moles, are active mostly at night, and have a long pointed snout, very small eyes, and velvety fur
: a scolding or bad-tempered woman

More from Merriam-Webster on shrew

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