One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A harsh-tempered or overbearing woman.
- ‘At the dawn of the U.S. civil rights era, black stereotypes - the shiftless coon, termagant Mammy, servile Uncle Tom - remained the order of the day in popular American mass entertainment.’
- ‘Your highness, sorry about the shrieking termagant!’
- ‘The sextet devoted way too much ribaldry to speech impediments and Jesus' termagant mum, and the film-making craft, which I'd remembered as spiffy, now looked slack.’
- ‘I like to imagine my mother a harried and frantic termagant, slightly crazed and in distinct need of sedation.’
- ‘Dearest, if I'm one, then you must be a termagant, a misandrist and all its synonyms rolled into one.’
- ‘He rolled his eyes at his mother, who was practically puffing up in indignation for the termagant who had all but threw him out of her home after the argument they had about the engagement.’
- ‘Rourke was sure he would not want to face the termagant anytime soon.’
2historical An imaginary deity of violent and turbulent character, often appearing in morality plays.
Middle English (in termagant (sense 2)): via Old French from Italian Trivagante, taken to be from Latin tri- ‘three’ + vagant- ‘wandering’, and to refer to the moon ‘wandering’ between heaven, earth, and hell under the three names Selene, Artemis, and Persephone.
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