Posted by: Caitlin | February 19, 2008

Virago

I receive “Word of the Day” emails from dictionary.com. They are usually not very helpful: previous words of the day have included varicolored, ennui, nolens volens, and potboiler.
But the two definitions given for this recent Word of the Day, virago, evoke eerie similarities to the dichotomous opinions about a certain presidential candidate:

Word of the Day

virago \vuh-RAH-go; vuh-RAY-go\, noun:

1. A woman of extraordinary stature, strength, and courage.
2. A woman regarded as loud, scolding, ill-tempered, quarrelsome, or overbearing.

The intrepid heroines range from Unn the Deep Minded, the Viking virago who colonized Iceland, to Sue Hendrikson, a school dropout who became one of the great experts on amber, fossils and shipwrecks.
— Ann Prichard, “Coffee-table: Africa, cathedrals, animals, ‘Sue'”, USA Today, November 28, 2001

This virago, this madwoman, finally got to me, and I was subjected to the most rude, the most shocking violence I can remember.
— José Limón, An Unfinished Memoir

Virago comes from Latin virago, “a man-like woman, a female warrior, a heroine” from vir, “a man.”

Interesting.

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