This site is intended to be viewed with javascript enabled; please upgrade or reset your browser.

See here for more details.

Literature and Ideas

hag

n.

The Devil's Dictionary

Ambrose Bierce

An elderly lady whom you do not happen to like; sometimes called, also, a hen, or cat. Old witches, sorceresses, etc., were called hags from the belief that their heads were surrounded by a kind of baleful lumination or nimbus — hag being the popular name of that peculiar electrical light sometimes observed in the hair. At one time hag was not a word of reproach: Drayton speaks of a “beautiful hag, all smiles,” much as Shakespeare said, “sweet wench.” It would not now be proper to call your sweetheart a hag — that compliment is reserved for the use of her grandchildren.