[vi-rah-goh, -rey-]
Virago is a term that refers to a strong, brave, or warlike woman (from Latin vir "a man", compare Tomboy). The term has also been used to refer to a noisy, bossy, and scolding woman. It is closely related to termagant, which is a quarrelsome, scolding woman and shrew, which is a nagging woman.

Latin Bible

Virago is the Latin Bible's word for "woman." It was the name given by Adam to the first woman when she was created out of his rib. (The name was later changed to "Eve.") The Latin Bible says:

Dixitque Adam hoc nunc os ex ossibus meis et caro de carne mea haec vocabitur virago quoniam de viro sumpta est. ("And Adam said: This now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.")

The Middle English poem Cursor Mundi retains the Latin name for the woman in its otherwise Middle English account of the creation:

Quen sco was broght be-for adam, Virago he gaf her to nam; þar for hight sco virago, ffor maked of the man was sco. (lines 631-34)

("When she was brought before Adam, Virago was the name he gave to her; Therefore she is called Virago, For she was made out of the man.")


  • Ernst Breisach, Caterina Sforza ; A Renaissance virago, Chicago [usw.]: University Press 1967
  • Elizabeth D. Carney,"Olympias and the Image of the Virago" in: Phoenix, Vol. 47, No. 1 (Spring, 1993), pp. 29-55
  • Morris, Richard. Cursor Mundi: A Northunbrian Poem of the XIV Century. London: Oxford UP, 1874. Republished 1961.
  • Yenna Wu, The Chinese virago : a literary theme, Cambridge, Mass. [u.a.] : Harvard Univ. Press, 1995

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