\ 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)

transitive verb

: curse

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Other Words from shrew


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

Examples of shrew in a Sentence


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

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, "Here are the feature and TV films airing the week of Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019," 11 Aug. 2019 But Patricia Racette makes the Kostelnicka a more nuanced, ambiguous figure than the usual shrew. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, "A fairy-tale world premiere and Janácek's brutal but redemptive 'Jenufa' impress at Santa Fe Opera," 6 Aug. 2019 That means considering the smaller animals, such as shrews, voles, jumping mice, and pika, too. Starre Vartan, National Geographic, "How wildlife bridges over highways make animals—and people—safer," 16 Apr. 2019 One of the new species is a flightless behemoth, weighing as much as a shrew, and carries big spines for defense on its thorax. Piotr Naskrecki, National Geographic, "Blood-squirting insects and more tiny creatures flourish in African park," 25 Apr. 2019 Researchers have collected genetic evidence that these HEVs can also infect a variety of animals, including pigs, wild boar, deer, rabbits, mongoose, chickens, camels, ferrets, greater bandicoots, Asian musk shrew, mink, moose, and fish. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Rat hepatitis jumps to human for first time, spotlighting disease mystery," 2 Oct. 2018 There are a few other venomous mammals, mostly shrews, but there’s only one venomous primate: Southeast Asia’s slow loris. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, "20 Things You Didn't Know About ... Poison," 25 Sep. 2018 Elephants and elephant cape shrews—which both keep their testes locked away in the abdomen—have internal body temperatures similar to those of humans. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "The Earliest Mammals Kept Their Cool With Descended Testicles," 28 June 2018 Director Alex Richanbach employs a sharp stylistic contrast between dim and dreary New York City and vibrant Spain, where Harper is sent by her shrew of a boss (Michaela Watkins) to land a sangria client. Katie Walsh,, "Gillian Jacobs gets wild in girl-tripping comedy 'Ibiza'," 24 May 2018

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.

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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)

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Statistics for shrew

Last Updated

14 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shrew

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

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More Definitions for shrew



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

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More from Merriam-Webster on shrew

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shrew

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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