oxford views updated May 17 2018
shrew / shroō/ •
n. a small mouselike insectivorous mammal (Sorex, Crocidura, and other genra, family Soricidae) with a long pointed snout and tiny eyes. ∎ a bad-tempered or aggressively assertive woman.DERIVATIVES: shrew·ish adj.shrew·ish·ly adv.shrew·ish·ness n.
oxford views updated Jun 27 2018
the shrew was popularly believed to be dangerous, and especially venomous. The name is recorded in Old English
(in form scrēawa
, of Germanic origin); related words in Germanic languages
have senses such as ‘dwarf’, ‘devil’, or ‘fox’.
From the Middle English period, shrew, with regard to the animal's reputation, was used to designate a malignant or vexatious person, and from this developed the particular sense of a bad-tempered or aggressively assertive woman.
oxford views updated May 18 2018
mammal of the genus Sorex
, formerly held to be venomous. OE. sċrēawa
, rel. to OHG. scrawaz
dwarf, MHG. schrawaz
devil, Icel. skrǫggr
old man, Norw. skrugg
dwarf. Comp. shrewmouse
oxford views updated May 23 2018
†malignant man XIII; person (now, woman) given to railing XIV. perh. transf. use of prec., but poss. spec. application of a word meaning ‘ill-disposed being’.
†wicked XIV; ill-natured, given to scolding XVI.
oxford views updated May 29 2018
Smallest mammal, found throughout the world. It is an active, voracious insectivore that eats more than its own weight daily. Family Soricidae.