Monday, July 25, 2011

virago



virago [vɪˈrɑgoʊ] n.

1.) Woman. (Only as the name given by Adam to Eve, after the Vulgate rendering of Gen. ii. 23.)
2.) A man-like, vigorous, and heroic woman; a female warrior; an amazon. Now rare.
3.) A bold, impudent (or wicked) woman; a termagant, a scold (O.E.D. 2nd Ed.).

Etymology: adoption of Latin virāgo, a man-like or heroic woman, a female warrior, etc., from vir, man. Hence also Old French, French, and Spanish virago.

"'To arms, to arms!' the fierce virago cries,
And swift as lightning to the combat flies.
All side in parties, and begin th' attack;
Fans clap, silks rustle, and tough whalebones crack;
Heroes' and Heroines' shouts confus'dly rise,
And bass, and treble voices strike the skies" (The Rape of the Lock, Alexander Pope, 1712).

("Achilles killing the Amazon Queen Penthesilea", Exekias, 535 BC)
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This week's honors in the weekly challenge go to...D4! Can he be stopped, is the question now, or am I actually going to have give away one of my precious books? He wrote what I believe is a poem (correct me if I'm wrong D4 cause the line breaks didn't come across) that goes:
You lucubrate every night in your little corner,
To fit with the hoi polloi of nature inchoate;
Your need of verdant paper subaltern only to the former
Suppresses the affection between you and this poet.
A very worthy effort, as I'm sure everyone will agree. An honorable mention also goes to PeaceLoveandSharpies, who came up with the crazy idea for this contest in the first place. You had a strong entry (and I love you too) but were just unlucky to come up against a D4 playing at the top of his game. So, this week's words are quiescent, a priori, quixotic, repine, assiduous, consanguinity, and mien (pick your favorite 5). Good luck, and thanks for reading!

31 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Could be either positive or negative then.

DEZMOND said...

I just had this word while I was translating the third book of TRUE BLOOD series and it was used for a man-like female vampire :)

Devour said...

Virago hmm so can I call a girl this?

Zombie said...

Got 99 problems but a Virago aint one...

Debra She Who Seeks said...

"Virago" -- one of my favourite words! There used to be a feminist publisher in Britain called Virago Press (perhaps it's still operating, I don't know). That's where I first learned the term. "Virago" is a positive term and if you don't think so, may a tribe of viragos descend on you and kick your ass. Hee hee!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Oh yes, and congrats to D4! Well done!

ellie said...

I've never thought about this word. I seriously need to check out your blog more.

ivy's closet said...

This definitely needs some fan fiction. hehe..

jill said...

I have mixed feelings about these definitions. the comment above me is hilarious, though.
x. jill
www.thoseghosts.blogspot.com

Anna said...

Wow.. I dont live in England (I live in Finland) but I find this extremely interesting :)

Henry said...

The first and second definition can be viewed as a social commentary on females.

Chris Hashemi said...

Great, now all I can picture is some super hot athletic chick/warrior kicking butt. lol

PeaceLoveandSharpies said...

Holy hell, I didn't stand a chance. :P
Yay D4!

Last Days said...

Very interesting!
+followed by starcraftdinner.blogspot.com

Diego Sousa said...

and it's also the name of a bike :)

Astronomy Pirate said...

Congrats to D4. Virago would be a much better way to describe strong female leads in movies I'd think, like Alien.

JayJay said...

Impressive poetic effort D4. (Makes me a little glad I didn't get around to sending my attempt.)

And this is another of those words that strikes a chord in my memory but I can't place it.

Bart said...

virago: woman. enough said. lol

D4 said...

Well, yes it's a poem, and I should have guessed the line breaks wouldn't go through. I wasn't sure I'd get the point but hurrah for me!

Sorry Sharpie! >_<

Electric Addict said...

awesome word

Shutterbug said...

Congrats D4! You totally deserved to win! :D

The Tame Lion said...

Wow! Cool!

jos xx said...

congrats to the winner!

can an example of this word be someone like Xena (the warrior)??

re your comment: i knew you would ask me about the name check lol, what kind of name is -E- btw?., and yeah the song might be a little bit old, but it brings back happy memories...

jos xx

Drake Sigar said...

Valkyrie!

jos xx said...

btw, i would like to enter that word challenge, even though i know i'm not good and probably you will laugh when you read what i wrote - where shall i send it?

jos xx

i_love_weed said...

viragos be crazy x)

Bibi said...

Have I ever told you how I love the fact that you use visual arts? Probably not. Then I'll say it now: I love how you use visual arts on your blog. Art is so classy... The fact that I'm an art historian doesn't have anything to do with that *cough*

Congrats to D4! Great idea, your weekly challenge. It improves the reader-blogger interaction.

Oh and thanks for the advice on "classically schooled". I'm amazed it exists, even when it's not commonly used. My English must be better than I thought.

Hydriotaphia said...

E - many of the words you post on are in fact common vocabulary to any well-read person, so I figure sadly from the comments posted here that the march of progress has made for a poorer vocabulary among youth today, perhaps many are less well-read simply because of the numerous alternative distractions which are available today from reading. So a laudable endeavour of yours to focus on lesser-known words.
But 'eee we had nought like these new-fangled mind-expanding blogs or even the internet in my youth.

Jetah said...

Neat word. Could be used to describe some of the ice-hockey players at my school.

Salted Plum said...

Another brand new word for me!

Jenny WOolf said...

I always thought Virago was a rather odd name for a publishers, even though I could see where they were coming from with it. Still, it's memorable. I wonder if they're still going.

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