a coarse-mannered woman who is prone to shouting.
I was looking up fishy words for a piece I'm writing on Whalesbone Oyster House. I had oysters there this morning at 10 a.m. and they put me in a right snappy mood.
And I think I have now found the fishiest word of 'em all...
I found this interpretation at www.phrases.org.uk, and it really made me wish I shrieked like a fishwife more often:
In London, fish mongers were also known as "The wives of Billingsgate". according to Ackroyd, it is thought that they were descendants of devotees of the God, Belin who was worshipped there at one time. "They dressed in strong 'stuff'gowns and quilted petticoats; their hair, caps and bonnets were flattened into one in distinguishable mass upon their heads." They were also called 'fish fags'. "They smoked small pipes of tobacco, took snuff, drank gin and were known for their colourful language... A dictionary from 1736 defined a 'Billingsgate' as a scolding, impudent slut." You can almost imagine how they must have smelled.