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>
vixenishplay \-s(ə-)nish\ adjective
Examples of vixen in a sentence
<why anyone puts up with that vixen's sharp tongue is beyond me>
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.
Origin and Etymology of vixen
Middle English (southern dialect) *vixen, alteration of Middle English fixen, from Old English fyxe, feminine of fox
First Known Use: 15th century
VIXEN Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of vixen for English Language Learners
: a female fox
: an angry and unpleasant woman
: a sexually attractive woman
VIXEN Defined for Kids
Definition of vixen for Students
: a female fox
Seen and Heard
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