What does the word "vixen" mean, in your opinion, when applied to a woman?

A vixen is a female fox, but the word has also historically been used, generally by men, to describe certain women. It seems to have fallen out of use, but i also think that most people would still be familiar with the term.

So, without looking at any dictionaries or other reference works: If a woman was described to you as a vixen, what characteristics would you attribute to her? What sort of woman would come to mind?

Once you’ve sorted out your own understanding of the term, have a look at the relevant section from the Oxford English Dictionary:vixen, n. 2.a. An ill-tempered quarrelsome woman; a shrew, a termagant.Do your definition and the OED’s definition agree?

I ask because the word came up at dinner last night, and both my wife and i found that our own understanding of the word’s meaning was actually quite different from the dictionary definition, and yet we both still believe that our own definition is the one more commonly used. I’ll explain further after getting some responses.

Hawt. Maybe a little flirty. All I can bring to mind right now is Jessica Rabbit.

What tdn said. That’s very interesting. Obviously it’s so routinely misused that it’s taken on a whole new meaning to people.

I think of vixen as meaning a headstrong woman in touch with her animal/sexual side. Angelina Jolie strikes me as a vixen.

And yes, the definition seems to have evolved…

At least we’re not focused on the 80’s all-girl hair metal band :wink:

Jessica Rabbit is a perfect example. A vixen is sexy and kinda bad.

For some reason that I can’t reference, I think of an attractive woman who actively uses her physical attractiveness to influence weak minded men.

A woman who is sexy and flirtatious or outright sexually aggressive.

I think that a lot of it is the common use of the word “foxy” to describe a sexy woman. A vixen is a female fox after all. So it’s kind of natural to interpret calling a woman a “vixen” to be another way of calling her a foxy lady.

But that’s just the way she’s drawn.

I did not know that before this thread. But I usually think redhead.

I picture a woman who’s sexy and sly.

Calculatedly sexy, very smart and shrewd, and a little dangerous.

Temperamental and sexy.

Is that the ONLY definition in the OED? And from what year? (The online version being from like 1912 or something, right?)

FWIW, the online Merriam-Webster dictionary entry gives what everybody here (including myself) would have thought to be the non-literal meaning as Definition #3.

Also I’ve read or heard the word “vixen” used in the “Jessica Rabbit” sense since at least the 1980s, and NEVER in the sense given here in Oxford English Dictionary, so I’m surprised these dictionaries are so far behind the change in meaning.

My recent edition also gives #1 “a female fox” So maybe they did not mean the animal? :slight_smile:

Sexy sly, cunning but not really evil.

She’s not bad, she’s just drawn that way. :smiley: IMO, vixen=sexually aggressive woman on the prowl.

The version of the OED i used is the current, complete online version available only through subscription. I have access through my university.

It has three definitions; two as a noun, one as an adjective. Here’s how the entry looks:

And the definition of “vixenish” given by the OED is “Resembling a vixen in disposition; cross, ill-tempered, snappish.” The most recent quotation given as an example of instance #2 is from 1879; it seems to me that they might need to update this entry.

Rihanna :slight_smile:

My personal definition agrees with the OED, except that there should also be an element of sexiness. Probably the Russ Meyer influence.

…and preferably wearing a skin-tight leather catsuit.