The haggard old woman who lives down the street in a ramshackle house, shaking her fist while chasing children out of her yard? You might call her a crone, if you’re brave. (But be careful: the term is insulting.)

Since the late fourteenth century the word crone has been a term of abuse describing old and bad-tempered women. It traces back to the Anglo-French word charoine, meaning “dead flesh.” Most people don’t like being described as dead flesh, and if the person happens to have a bad temper also . . . well, you can see that it’s not a term you want to toss around lightly. You’re more likely to hear it used in a Shakespeare play than in real life.

Definitions of crone
  1. noun
    an ugly, evil-looking old woman
    synonyms: beldam, beldame, hag, witch
    see moresee less
    type of:
    old woman
    a woman who is old
Word Family
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