vixen

play
noun vix·en \ˈvik-sən\

Definition of vixen

  1. 1 :  a shrewish ill-tempered woman

  2. 2 :  a female fox

  3. 3 :  a sexually attractive woman

vixenish

play \-s(ə-)nish\ adjective

Examples of vixen in a sentence

  1. <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: 1590


VIXEN Defined for English Language Learners

vixen

play
noun vix·en \ˈvik-sən\

Definition of vixen for English Language Learners

  • : a female fox

  • : an angry and unpleasant woman

  • : a sexually attractive woman


VIXEN Defined for Kids

vixen

play
noun vix·en \ˈvik-sən\

Definition of vixen for Students

  1. :  a female fox



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