Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Dani the Virago

I like the Word of the Day doo-hickey in my sidebar. Most days I know what the word means in a general context, if not the specific definition, but I'm always pleased to see an entirely new word that I don't recognize at all. (Yes, I am that geeky.)

Today's word is virago, a word I don't think I've ever seen before, so I clicked on it. Here's the definition:

Word of the Day for Wednesday October 26, 2005
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."

Now, I'm not much of a feminista but I have to tell you, I'm a little troubled by this definition. What, is number one how women define the term and number two is how men use the word? There's a lot of ground between being a woman of courage and extraordinary stature, and being a raving shrew. Which one do you think I'd prefer to see carved on my tombstone?

And then, to add insult to injury, we get to the etymology of the word and apparently a strong, courageous woman is -- manlike? Oh please!

You know what? You can call me a virago any day.