vix·en (vĭk’sən)
n. 1) A female fox. 2) A woman regarded as quarrelsome or ill-tempered.
[From dialectal alteration of Middle English fixen, from Old English fyxe.]
vix’en·ish adj. vix’en·ish·ly adv. vix’en·ish·ness n.
Word History: In the traditional dialects of Devon, Somerset, and Cornwall, counties of southern England, words that begin with the voiceless fricative sounds (f) and (s) are pronounced instead with voicing, as (v) and (z). (The local rendering of the county name Somerset, in fact, is "Zomerzet.") The voicing is due to a Middle English sound change and may have roots even earlier. At least three examples of this dialectal pronunciation have entered standard English: vat, vane, and vixen. The first of these is a variant of an earlier word fat; the pronunciation with (f) was still used in the 1800s before being displaced by the southern pronunciation (văt). Vane, which used to mean "flag," has a cognate in the German word for "flag," Fahne, showing the original f. Vixen, finally, represents the southern pronunciation of a word that goes back to Old English fyxe, the feminine of fox. It was formed by a change in the root vowel of fox and the addition of a suffix -e or -en. Besides being one of the rare southern English dialect forms to have come into standard English, vixen is also the only survival of this type of feminine noun in the modern language.

Word Histories. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • vixenishness — See vixenish. * * * …   Universalium

  • vixenishness — noun The state or condition of being vixenish …   Wiktionary

  • vixenishness — vix·en·ish·ness …   English syllables

  • vixenishness — noun see vixenish …   Useful english dictionary

  • fretfulness — Synonyms and related words: anxiety, breathless impatience, chafing, disquietude, eagerness, excitement, fretting, haste, impatience, impatientness, impetuousness, lather, peevishness, pettishness, petulance, petulancy, querulousness,… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • petulance — Synonyms and related words: Faustianism, arbitrariness, beef, beefing, bellyache, bellyaching, bitch, bitching, caprice, capriciousness, cold comfort, complaining, complaint, crankiness, crotchetiness, destructive criticism, disappointment,… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • vixen — /ˈvɪksən / (say viksuhn) noun 1. a female fox. 2. an ill tempered or quarrelsome woman; a spitfire. {Southern British dialect, variant of Middle English fixen female fox, from Old English fyxe} –vixenish, vixenly, adjective –vixenishly, adverb… …   Australian English dictionary

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