\ ˈshrü How to pronounce shrew (audio) , especially Southern ˈsrü \

Definition of shrew

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : 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
2 : an ill-tempered scolding woman


shrewed; shrewing; shrews

Definition of shrew (Entry 2 of 2)

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from shrew


shrewlike \ ˈshrü-​ˌlīk How to pronounce shrewlike (audio) \ adjective

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: Noun Smith and paleontologist Kenneth Angielczyk turned instead to 16 hero shrew specimens already in the Field Museum’s collections. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "Hero Shrews’ Extreme, Superstrong Backbones Are the Stuff of Legend," 30 Apr. 2020 The oldest mammals go back much further in time, and contrary to the standard story of shrew-like critters kept in check by monstrous reptiles, mammals thrived during Mesozoic era. Riley Black, Smithsonian, "Fossil Site Reveals How Mammals Thrived After the Death of the Dinosaurs," 25 Oct. 2019 But the disease does not appear to spread between horses; they are thought to acquire it from shrews, which can live in hay and secrete or excrete fluids containing the virus. Tanya Lewis, Scientific American, "Virus Spread by Shrews Linked to Human Deaths from Mysterious Brain Infections," 8 Jan. 2020 That difference of 40 degrees is significant in the life of voles and shrews and insects and plants. Anchorage Daily News, "Middle Alaska begins its transition to a quieter, snow-covered world," 12 Oct. 2019 Over 3 years, rats, shrews, and even frogs followed suit—more than 200,000 animals in all. David Grimm, Science | AAAS, "Our favorite science news stories of the decade," 20 Dec. 2019 As the chart shows, the biggest male-bias seen in the six largest orders of mammals (rodents, bats, shrews and their kin, carnivores, primates and artiodactyls) is in the artiodactyls. The Economist, "Museums’ animal collections favour males," 26 Oct. 2019 Though married to a terrible shrew, a man tries to figure out a way to be with his childhood sweetheart, who has just moved back into town. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week Sept. 15, 2019: ‘Alien,’ ‘Aliens’ and more," 13 Sep. 2019 Point is: why do these men get to express anger and agitation for such trivial principles but the woman who built an entire campaign around fighting corruption gets to so easily be depicted as a shrew? Michael Arceneaux, Essence, "Only Sexist Men Take Issue With Elizabeth Warren’s Justified Anger," 14 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shrew.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of shrew


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


14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for shrew


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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about shrew

Time Traveler for shrew

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for shrew

Last Updated

7 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Shrew.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for shrew


How to pronounce shrew (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of shrew

: a small animal that looks like a mouse with a long, pointed nose
old-fashioned : an unpleasant, bad-tempered woman


\ ˈshrü How to pronounce shrew (audio) \

Kids Definition of shrew

1 : a small mouselike animal with a long pointed snout and tiny eyes that lives mostly on insects and worms
2 : an unpleasant woman with a bad temper

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on shrew

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for shrew

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shrew

Spanish Central: Translation of shrew

Nglish: Translation of shrew for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shrew for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about shrew

Comments on shrew

What made you want to look up shrew? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!