Definition of virago in English:

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Pronunciation: /vɪˈrɑːɡəʊ/

noun (plural viragos or viragoes)

1A domineering, violent, or bad-tempered woman: that virago of a wife of his needs locking up
More example sentences
  • 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.
harridan, shrew, dragon, termagant, vixen;
fishwife, witch, hellcat, she-devil, tartar, martinet, spitfire, hag, gorgon, fury, ogress, harpy, nag, trout
informal battleaxe, old bag, old bat, cow, old cow, bitch
Scottish & Northern Irish informal targe
archaic scold
rare Xanthippe
1.1 archaic A woman of masculine strength or spirit; a female warrior.
Example sentences
  • 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.

  • 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.

Words that rhyme with virago

Argo, argot, cargo, Chicago, embargo, escargot, farrago, largo, Margot, Otago, Santiago

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: vir¦ago

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