Termagant

Definition

Theater

  • A name given by medieval writers to an idol or deity that the Saracens were supposed to worship. Termagant was subsequently introduced into the morality plays as a violent ranting character in long flowing Eastern robes. This dress led to the character being identifiedas a woman, which is how the name later came to mean a virago.

    To o'erdo Termagant is to overact, especially by ranting andraging. In medieval drama, noisiness was a measure of villainy and Termagant (like Herod and Pilate) was always played in an exaggerated bawling style. The phrase comes from Hamlet's instructions to the players(Hamlet, III, ii), in which the Prince tells them not to overdo the shouting.

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