Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Virago – Wordplay Wednesday™ 11/18/2020

 Fine Line Between Obnoxious and Courageous 

Men have often complained that women are so complicated they never know which they’re going to get on any given day … a Pollyanna or a shrew. There’s a word for that …

VIRAGO (vɘ-ʹrä(,)gō; 14c.) n. – 1) a loud overbearing woman : termagant; 2) a woman of great stature, strength, and courage (viraginous). [WW #295]

Any readers thinking they’ve seen this word here before, you’re right! Good memory … Virago was a May 20, 2015 Wordplay feature. And I questioned its definition even back then.

It’s fun sometimes to compare the 2020 dictionary with the 2016 and prior editions … a previous tome did not include the new, #2, more complimentary definition; originally referring only to a woman who is “quarrelsome and shrewish.” So figured it’s high time for an update!

Virago’s revised meaning adds another dimension to strong-willed women while offering an option that suggests a fine line between obnoxious and courageous. We women walk that tightrope every day. Some manage to command admiration while championing an issue; others seen as too demanding, are labeled overbearing (or worse, emotional).

Keep in mind with this word that “great stature” is not necessarily referring to a physical trait. Women with a viraginous nature could include Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Hayden Panettiere, Judy Garland, and Dolly Parton—just a few right about five feet tall or shorter, who come to mind.

An interesting facet for your novel’s character or used as an apt adjective for a nonfiction book, virago can express admirable qualities, or on a bad day, an irksome personality.

Word Challenge: VIRAGO. Great word to spice up your vocabulary, as you fit virago into your week of vivid writings and clever conversations.

Learning knows no prejudices or boundaries, and it isn’t fattening! Expanding your mind is a no-cost, simple joy. Do you feel that way too? What’s your inspiration? Share your creative genius and Wordplay Wednesday comments below.

Write first for yourself … only then can you write for others. (L.Rochelle)  

Cheers to learning a new word today!


[LinDee Rochelle is a writer and editor by trade, and an author by way of Rock & Roll. She has published two books in her Blast from Your Past series (of three) about pioneering R&R Radio DJs. True behind-the-mic tales make GREAT Holiday and anytime Gifts available on Amazon (eBook and print): Book 1Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The First Five Years 1954-1959; and Book 2Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The Swinging Sixties. Coming soon … The Psychedelic Seventies!]

*LR Notes: 1) Dictionary definitions are quoted from Webster’s New World College Dictionary. Yes, we sometimes present them out of “official” context—but that’s half the fun! Think of it as “creative context.” 2) a] Recent dictionary additions to definitions include a date of first use, if known; b] words in small caps indicate “see also.” 3) Neither I (LinDee Rochelle) nor Penchant for Penning are responsible for how you use information found here, that may result in legal action.



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