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"male equvalent" of a 'shrew'

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Sidjanga, Nov 7, 2010.

  1. Sidjanga Senior Member

    German;southern tendencies
    Hi,

    Is there a "male equivalent" of a shrew in English? (like in The Taming of the Shrew, and similar contexts).

    The Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary says:
    So is there also a (specific) word for an "unpleasant man who is easily annoyed and who argues a lot" - or is at least the "arguing-a-lot" part precisely what would make a man... well... just what a man is supposed to be like, and the one who's responsible for making him annoyed in the first place - if he is annoyed - would normally be the woman? :rolleyes:

    Thanks
     
  2. grubble

    grubble Senior Member

    South of England, UK
    British English
    He could be a grouch
     
  3. prof d'anglais Senior Member

    Tours 37, France
    England, English
    Trusting I don't get my wrist slapped for referring to a competitive forum, this same question was asked here. It seems the nearest we can get, is accusing a man of behaving like an old woman. It still strikes me as being overly sexist though...
     
  4. Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    British English
    But that is not the equivalent of a shrew. An "old woman" is a man who is fussy about trivial things - quite possibly irritable, quite possibly a grouch, but lacking the bitterness and venom that is an essential element of being a "shrew".
     
  5. prof d'anglais Senior Member

    Tours 37, France
    England, English
    I agree Andygc but does that mean men are incapable of being bitter and venomous? Another characteristic of a shrew is nagging. Nag can be attached to men just as easily as women.
     
  6. grubble

    grubble Senior Member

    South of England, UK
    British English
    This link indicates that originally "shrew" applied equally to men and women
    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=shrew:
    Given that the term is now more or less obsolete, maybe we should consign to history the century or two during which it applied only to women.
     
  7. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    I think this is quite a good suggestion. I can't think of a closer one - it seems that most such terms have implicit sexist overtones.

    I wonder about calling a man a "little bitch" in the sense of a male shrew.
     
  8. prof d'anglais Senior Member

    Tours 37, France
    England, English
    I'm inclined to think only a guy of a similar sexual orientation would call another guy, "a little bitch".
     
  9. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    I probably would use "like a shrew..."

    Mike, you are acting like a shrew and you know everyone hates it when you behave like that.
     
  10. grubble

    grubble Senior Member

    South of England, UK
    British English
    So is "shrew" a current word in the US?
     
  11. Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    British English
    Yes they can be equally malign, but I was referring to the term "old woman" applied to a man, which does not have the meaning of "shrew" as applied to a woman.

    Despite the derivation that grubble referred to, "shrew" has been used exclusively as a term to apply to a woman for perhaps more than 500 years.

    I think that the answer to the original question is that there is no single word that can describe a man so effectively as "shrew" has been used for a woman with similar personality traits. Perhaps a reflection of the way society was ordered?
     
  12. prof d'anglais Senior Member

    Tours 37, France
    England, English
    I agree Andygc (this's becoming quite a habit between you and I). In fact discussing this with a French student this morning we discovered several French words that are uni-sexual -garçonnière, women do not have their equivalent and obviously maitresse is equally one-sided but slowly and surely, the tide is turning. I'd ask for suggestions for the female equivalents of the above but perhaps in the French forum... :)
     
  13. djmc Senior Member

    France
    English - United Kingdom
    Not quite the same but one could refer to a man one disapproves of as a male chauvinist pig.
     
  14. prof d'anglais Senior Member

    Tours 37, France
    England, English
    I have heard references to female chauvinists also...
     
  15. snootyjim Junior Member

    British English
    That is usually a term aimed at males believed to be sexist, no? It's a very specific term in my eyes.
     
  16. djmc Senior Member

    France
    English - United Kingdom
    Quite so but just as men may say of women that they are shrews because they dislike them for characteristics they think typically female, women may say male chauvinist pig of men they dislike for what they consider typically male macho behaviour.
     
  17. Uncle Bob Senior Member

    Hungary
    British English
    I agree with timpeac that grubble's "grouch" is a good suggestion and I would find it strange if a man were referred to as a "shrew". One could, instead of using a single term, list the required characteristics: a wining, bad-tempered (old) bugger. ("Old" isn't a necessary characteristic but it is frequently used even when the person isn't old).
     
  18. prof d'anglais Senior Member

    Tours 37, France
    England, English
    I would hope bugger isn't a characteristic either...
     

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