vi·​ra·​go | \ və-ˈrä-(ˌ)gō How to pronounce virago (audio) , -ˈrā-; ˈvir-ə-ˌgō How to pronounce virago (audio) \
plural viragoes or viragos

Definition of virago

1 : a loud overbearing woman : termagant
2 : a woman of great stature, strength, and courage

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Other Words from virago

viraginous \ və-​ˈra-​jə-​nəs How to pronounce viraginous (audio) \ adjective

Did You Know?

The original Latin meaning of virago was "female warrior". But in later centuries the meaning shifted toward the negative. The most famous virago in English literature is the ferocious Kate in Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. Some historical viragoes have also become famous. Agrippina poisoned her husband, the Emperor Claudius, so that her son Nero could take his place (but it was Nero himself who eventually had her assassinated). And Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, a powerful virago of the 12th century, was imprisoned by her husband, King Henry II of England, after she encouraged their sons to rebel against him. Today some people are beginning to use virago admiringly again.

Examples of virago in a Sentence

fairy tales that typically portray stepmothers as viragoes

Recent Examples on the Web

Their mother, Lucy, who had abandoned the family for a freer life and left the children with her husband, is a raging virago crushed by guilt (Mamie Gummer in an impressive performance). Dorothy Rabinowitz, WSJ, "‘True Detective’ Review: Grim, Gripping Entertainment," 10 Jan. 2019

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

First Known Use of virago

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for virago

Middle English, from Latin viragin-, virago, from vir man — more at virile

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Dictionary Entries near virago

viper wine






viral marketing

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The first known use of virago was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of virago

literary + disapproving : an angry woman who often complains about and criticizes other people

More from Merriam-Webster on virago

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Spanish Central: Translation of virago

Comments on virago

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


a topic to which one constantly reverts

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