Definition of virago in English:
noun (plural viragos or viragoes)
- I mutely watched two petite viragos lob insults at each other over the ethics of having a friend hold one's place in line.
- He lies awake at night, with Laura in the next room, sleeping the sleep of the virago.
- There's no one in the whole of London who will disagree with the fact that Her Ladyship is a virago, plain and simple.
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.
The second chapter of the Book of Genesis describes the creation of Eve: ‘And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ In the Latin version of the Bible known as the Vulgate, the word Adam uses for Eve is Virago. This is not the insult it appears to be now. Virago meant ‘heroic woman, female warrior’ in Latin and derived from vir ‘man’, the source of virile (Late Middle English) and virtue (Middle English) originally meaning ‘manliness. Virago first appeared in English with reference to Eve, but medieval man started using it in the disparaging sense ‘a domineering, violent, or bad-tempered woman’ that survives today.
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