- A female fox.
a. A woman regarded as sexually alluring.
b. A woman regarded as quarrelsome or ill-tempered.
Origin of vixen From dialectal alteration of
Middle English fixen from
Old English fyxe
Related Forms: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,
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
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.
- A female fox.
- A malicious, quarrelsome or temperamental woman.
- (colloquial) A racy or salacious woman.
From Old English fixen (“of a fox"), fyxen. Voiced v- is from Southern dialect. Compare German FÃ¼chsin. See also fox.