A harpy is a mean, foul-tempered woman. You might quietly refer to your cranky math teacher as a harpy.

The word harpy is a derogatory term for a very unpleasant female person. It is often considered offensive to call someone a harpy, in part because it singles out a nasty woman, when a man with similar characteristics might simply be "loud" or "opinionated" or "overbearing." The word comes from Greek mythology, in which a harpy was a food-stealing creature with a woman's head and the body of a bird.

Definitions of harpy
  1. noun
    any of various fruit bats of the genus Nyctimene distinguished by nostrils drawn out into diverging tubes
    synonyms: harpy bat, tube-nosed bat, tube-nosed fruit bat
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    type of:
    fruit bat, megabat
    large Old World bat of warm and tropical regions that feeds on fruit
  2. noun
    large black-and-white crested eagle of tropical America
    synonyms: Harpia harpyja, harpy eagle
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    type of:
    bird of Jove, eagle
    any of various large keen-sighted diurnal birds of prey noted for their broad wings and strong soaring flight
  3. noun
    a malicious woman with a fierce temper
    synonyms: hellcat, vixen
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    type of:
    disagreeable woman, unpleasant woman
    a woman who is an unpleasant person
Word Family

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