in Wacky Word Wednesday

Virago – Wacky Word Wednesday

Today’s Wacky Word Wednesday is back to talk about heroic women, whose bravery has inspired many people over the generations. Hauled over from TermWiki.com, here’s this week’s word:

quo topVirago
[vuh-RAH-go]

noun

A bold, impudent, turbulent woman; a female warrior.

quo botVirago

Virago is derived from the Latin vir, “hero or male,” and the suffix –ago, which suggests an association or resemblance, thus re-genders the word to be female. It means a valiant woman or a woman of great stature, strength and courage. You can find it in the Latin version of the Bible, the Vulgate, in Genesis 2:23 when Adam named his wife, Eve, saying, “This now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman (virago), because she was taken out of man.”

Although virago has noble origins, it’s now often used to demean women who seem mannish or like to criticize and scold others.  In this case, virago joins other pejoratives such as termagant, Amazonian and shrew, which are also used to disparage women who act aggressively.

But let’s stay on the positive note and meet several historic women who are considered virago in the more noble sense. Joan of Arc, a French military commander, Britain’s first female Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Cleopatra, a famous queen of ancient Egypt, are all great examples of female warriors. There are also fictional movie characters that can be considered viragos such as G.I. Jane, Ellen Ripley from the Alien film series and Jen Yu from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

As usual, we’ve provided a few examples showcasing today’s wacky word:

  • It met its persecutor with a shriek, almost exactly like that of an angry virago. (Your Dictionary)
  • The sight of a clergyman on her doorstep transformed her in an instant from a virago into a quietly spoken model of respectability. (Fred Secombe’s Goodbye Curate)

And that’s all for today’s edition of Wacky Word Wednesday. Have a great rest of the week and see you next time!

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