Category Archives: harpies

Harpies and harridans demand removal of ‘bitch’ from the OED

Dalrymple reports that

30,000 people—I was tempted to write harridans and harpies, but there must have been some emasculated men among them—have petitioned the Oxford University Press to remove words such as bitch, in the meaning of unpleasant female, from the Oxford English Dictionary as being derogatory of, and offensive to, women.


A decayed strumpet; one that is half whore, half bawd. ‘The nymphs with whom you first began, Are each become a harridan.’


A monster, rapacious and filthy.


‘His vices, like so many harpies, craving for their accustomed gratification’; ‘The harpies of taxation’; ‘My mother-in-law, the grasping, odious, abandoned, brazen harpy’; ‘Woman, altogether of the harpy breed.’



Applied opprobriously to a woman. ‘Ulysses looking sourly answered, You bitch!’; ‘An extravagant bitch of a wife’; ‘Call her prostitute, bawd, dirty bitch’; ‘You are a son of a bitch’; ‘I’ve been bitch-fou ‘mang godly priests’; ‘Jove, thou art going a-bitching’; ‘Such marriage is very unlawful lechery and plain abominable bitchery’; ‘The roguery of their lawyers, the bitchery of their paramours.’

The harridan-and-harpy wing of British politics

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 15.02.04 An article reflecting the views of such people is read, or endured, by Dalrymple. It is about ‘gender inequality’ in politics and society, and is both

dull, as all such articles are bound to be,

and impoverishing of the English language. However, the virtue of the article, to be found in the London newspaper the Observer, is that it lavishly furnishes Dalrymple with opportunities to indulge what he describes as

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 14.59.45one of the most delightful of emotions,

viz., righteous indignation.

The article irritates our man intensely, finally reducing the doctor-writer to

impotent rage.