Beware the “termagant” in more ways than one……..

February 24, 2011 at 2:16 pm Leave a comment

NOTE: Before you click onto the web definitions and especially the “images for termagant “ BEWARE at least one of the images is connected to a web site with a nasty virus ( which has been reported).

This shameful fact the “virus vermin” are more aware of the English language than I am leads me to hang my head in shame. Amazing to me the image of a termagant would be used to carry a virus – I mean how many people would be searching for THAT image?

Termagant, all started innocently enough as I try to escape my grief watching Masterpiece Classic- Downton Abbey.


One of my favourite actresses Maggie Smith– had a seemingly throw away line but actually punched the word which told all as to how she thought of her rival in the piece.

Upstairs, the show is stolen at least once an episode by Maggie Smith as the Earl’s mother, Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham.

It could be argued that Smith is given many of the best lines, but it could be argued just as strongly they become the best because of her skill at delivering them


a word you can get your teeth into

– that is what my mentor Jean Schaeffer would have said- and yes! I could see her playing the Maggie Smith role. Jean taught me a great deal above and beyond “acting classes”.

Jean showed me the nutshells in a sentence- the clues in the dialogue- the words upon which your “character fleshed“- and how you would perceive all other characters.

A playwright leaves us clues in the phraseology , the words chosen, lines are not accidental, there is a reason for each phrase, clues to delivery .

When you are given a script for the first time and during a cold reading – especially when the play is little known or unknown to you- these “nutshells” ,with practice, stand out. This technique has spilled over into my everyday life. When I read a newspaper article or documentation I can pick out the “nutshells” and the clues, reading between the lines becomes second nature.

When Maggie Smith delivered the word “termagant” I knew it was a “word you can get your teeth into” but I also realized the word was unknown to me. I felt chagrined after all Downton Abbey was a British piece- I, of all people, should have a clue. So heartily ashamed of my shortcoming I went in search of the definition

-termagant – capitalized : a deity erroneously ascribed to Islam by medieval European Christians and represented in early English drama as a violent character
2: an overbearing. odious or nagging woman

An overbearing woman – hmmmmmm well I guess that could be said of me- over bearing and nagging as for odious well I have my own representative for her 😉
So you can- Beware the “Basilisk and the Termagant” –
Words are wonderful and can be lovely sounding even when insulting – I heard an English “TV Presenter” calling another an “Onanist” – I thought at the time interesting pronunciation of “oneness ONLY knowing the insulting nature of the presenter sent me in search and now I have another polite sounding way of calling someone a wanker 😉

And words to live by- the family motto so you too can beware
Birthday Card for Mumby Chris Ritchey


Entry filed under: a Cow -elle opinion, Brit take, hell is other people, Mothers, personal opinion. Tags: , .

Lorain City Schools – The Meeting for the New High School Smith / Allen- Chronicle Telegram Tape / Series and Archives

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February 2011
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