Definition of virago in US English:



  • 1A domineering, violent, or bad-tempered woman.

    • ‘He rolled his eyes and bent his head close towards hers, looking for the entire world to be whispering sweet nothings into her ears, while actually saying ‘Would you cooperate, you obstinate virago?’’
    • ‘He lies awake at night, with Laura in the next room, sleeping the sleep of the virago.’
    • ‘It was not the glance of a cheerful guardian of the shelves, but instead the leer of a triumphant virago.’
    • ‘She is such a virago, so self-centred, and even self-indulgent that she seems to care for nothing except her own career.’
    • ‘Before vanishing altogether, the woman warrior becomes a hideous virago in prints and paintings in France and abroad.’
    • ‘Worst of all is the disastrous family his daughter is about to marry into, a graceless mob of halfwits headed by a foul-mouthed virago.’
    • ‘I mutely watched two petite viragos lob insults at each other over the ethics of having a friend hold one's place in line.’
    • ‘She sat there and took it like some kind of valkyrie or virago, perhaps the harpies of ancient myth.’
    • ‘He only silently curses the Quartermaster for somehow arranging him to be left with this nagging virago yet again.’
    • ‘There's no one in the whole of London who will disagree with the fact that Her Ladyship is a virago, plain and simple.’
    harridan, shrew, dragon, termagant, vixen
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    1. 1.1archaic A woman of masculine strength or spirit; a female warrior.
      • ‘So virility was manliness as opposed to eunuchism, and a virago was a woman acting like a man.’


Old English (used only as the name given by Adam to Eve, following the Vulgate), from Latin ‘heroic woman, female warrior’, from vir ‘man’. The current sense dates from late Middle English.