One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A female fox.
- ‘Gibbons says the females, or vixens, have a disturbing habit of making bloodcurdling screams in winter.’
- ‘People living on the Moorside blamed the fox for the demise of all the feral cats in the area and other wildlife. Mrs Crabtree thinks that it must be a hungry vixen with a litter to feed.’
- ‘Now the vixen snapped at the dog's heels, so he turned on her and found himself harried again by her brother.’
- ‘As the vixen's oestrus draws to a close, the dog fox stops guarding her and changes his behaviour dramatically, rapidly expanding into the neighbouring territories.’
- ‘That is a fairly massive population change in the same habitat, but at the same time the proportion of vixens breeding each year has stayed the same, the number of cubs they are producing has stayed the same.’
- 1.1informal A spiteful or quarrelsome woman.
virago, harridan, shrew, dragon, termagant, cat, witch, hellcat, she-devil, tartar, martinet, spitfire, hag, gorgon, fury, ogress, harpy, nagView synonyms
- ‘He uses examples from a biblical hall of fame of female villains and vixens - Delilah is one - to warn women not to engage in various forms of deceit or trickery to land, or keep, a man.’
Late Middle English fixen, perhaps from the Old English adjective fyxen ‘of a fox’. The v- is from the form of the word in southern English dialect.
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