Definition of harridan in English:



  • A strict, bossy, or belligerent old woman.

    ‘a bullying old harridan’
    • ‘In many ways I only have myself to blame for the centuries old convention of typecasting Jewish mothers as bossy, interfering, complaining, manipulating harridans who make the lives of all around them equal parts gluttony and misery.’
    • ‘By the 1940s, the mists of time had warped his vision to a few breast-plated harridans, some fire-breathing dragons and a liberal scattering of live animals.’
    • ‘I think I am this nice, gentle person but everyone, including my best friends, tells me I am a horrible harridan who frightens people.’
    • ‘She has been sitting there, chewing gum, and screaming like an old harridan.’
    • ‘They were both men who stayed with and took care of fairly unstable women who could be utterly charming and loveable on one side and frightening harridans on the other.’
    shrew, virago, harpy, termagant, vixen, nag, hag, crone, dragon, ogress
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Late 17th century (originally slang): perhaps from French haridelle ‘old horse’.