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shrew

Line breaks: shrew
Pronunciation: /ʃruː
 
/

Definition of shrew in English:

noun

1A small mouse-like insectivorous mammal with a long pointed snout and tiny eyes.
  • Family Soricidae: many genera, in particular Sorex and Crocidura, and numerous species
Example sentences
  • Several small mammals live in the park - genets, shrews, hedgehogs and mongooses.
  • With the zoo's high densities of rodents (deer mice, white-footed mice, house mice, shrews, moles, and Norway rats), a relatively high density of rodent predators could be achieved.
  • Foxes, rabbits, harvest mice, house mice, dormice, shrews, weasels, and voles all depend on the hedgerows as a place to breed, hunt or shelter.
2A bad-tempered or aggressively assertive woman: the girls became shrews and harridans
More example sentences
  • Socrates was married, you know, and his wife, Xanthippe, was a shrew.
  • Now, with this Ann doll, you can start training those young girls at an early age to become bigoted shrews!
  • He was perhaps more in love with the study of philosophy than with his family - that his wife Xanthippe was shrew is a later tale.
Synonyms
informal battleaxe, old bag, old bat, bitch
archaic scold
rare Xanthippe

Origin

Old English scrēawa, scrǣwa, of Germanic origin; related words in Germanic languages have senses such as 'dwarf', 'devil', or 'fox'.

More
  • Old English scrēawa is from a Germanic source related to words with senses such as ‘dwarf’, ‘devil’, or ‘fox’. No one knows for certain whether a bad-tempered woman is a shrew because people compared her to the mouse-like animal or whether the animal is a shrew because it was considered venomous and dangerous, like an aggressively assertive woman. When shrewd first appeared it shared these negative associations, but as connection with the shrew and belief in the shrew's evil weakened, it developed the sense ‘cunning’ and then the modern positive meaning ‘having sharp powers of judgement, astute’.

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