vix·​en | \ˈvik-sən \

Definition of vixen 

1 : a female fox

2 : a shrewish, ill-tempered woman When Arabella called her a treacherous vixen and a heartless, profligate hussy, she spoke out freely, and said that she wasn't going to be abused.— Anthony Trollope

3 informal : a sexually attractive woman In this spy spoof, our hero, aided by a sexy vixen, … saves the world from a power-mad despot …— Steven Rebello

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Other Words from vixen

vixenish \ -​s(ə-​)nish \ adjective

Vixens and Foxes

Vixen literally refers to a female fox, but it has two very distinctive extended meanings: “a shrew” and “a sexy woman.” How is it that the word took such semantically divergent paths?

The “combative, bad-tempered woman” sense has a very long history in our language, going back as far as the 16th century and extending well into the 20th. It may be found in Shakespeare and Swift as well as in latter-day descriptions of mothers-in-law and the names of gun boats. By mid-century, however, vixen begins to be used of glamorous and attractive women. Perhaps its application to female characters who combined combative and seductive qualities led to the word's reinterpretation. Or perhaps it was influenced by fox, another term for an attractive young woman that made its appearance in English around this time.

Examples of vixen in a Sentence

why anyone puts up with that vixen's sharp tongue is beyond me

Recent Examples on the Web

The ethereal boho queen of Coachella — think fringe, cutoff denim shorts and that old-school Stevie Nicks look — has been joined by some saucy Coachella vixens fit for our extreme political era. Marques Harper,, "Less boho chic, more streetwear style on the Coachella fashion scene for 2018," 15 Apr. 2018 Rather than skewing entirely romantic, EmRata brought a bit of characteristic summer-ready vixen into the mix, a dusting of bronze between long lashes and power brow for added warmth. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "Emily Ratajkowski Shows Off Her Summer-Ready Skin in Los Angeles," 24 May 2018 But Deanna turns from annoyingly school-spirited mom to confident middle-aged vixen, and not even overnight. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "Review: Melissa McCarthy's C-grade college comedy 'Life of the Party' is a Greek tragedy," 10 May 2018 Still, our efforts didn’t suddenly catapult us into video vixen territory., "Why Proms – Supersized, Superglam – Don’t Look Anything Like The Ones You Remember," 30 Apr. 2018 Amber Rose A few days after Rose and rapper 21 Savage unfollowed each other on social media, the video vixen posted this sweet video clip with her 5-year-old son Sebastian. Grace Gavilanes,, "How Jenna Dewan, Justin Theroux & More Celebs Returned to Social Media After Announcing Their High-Profile Splits," 24 Apr. 2018 She's been criticized for not being black enough, for speaking out on the erasure of video vixens and strippers in the #MeToo movement and for being a former exotic dancer herself. Jeneé Osterheldt, kansascity, "On her new album, rapper Cardi B is absolutely herself, and that's why we love her," 6 Apr. 2018 The sisters try to help women find their inner vixen through aerial silk classes, pole fitness and other more traditional cardio options, like Zumba. Katie Parsons,, "Moms get creative to carve out time to exercise," 21 Mar. 2018 The unifying element is that every woman on screen is either a vixen or a victim. Kimber Myers,, "Weak theology, chaste horror and bad filmmaking sink 'But Deliver Us From Evil'," 2 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vixen.' 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 vixen

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for vixen

Middle English (southern dialect) *vixen, alteration of Middle English fixen, from Old English fyxe, feminine of fox

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Time Traveler for vixen

The first known use of vixen was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for vixen



English Language Learners Definition of vixen

: a female fox

: an angry and unpleasant woman

: a sexually attractive woman


vix·​en | \ˈvik-sən \

Kids Definition of vixen

: a female fox

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Comments on vixen

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something that serves to warn or remind

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