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Language tip of the week: angry

ILearn English with Macmillan Dictionaryn this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. In this series of  language tips we look at how metaphor is used to express some common concepts in English. This week’s tip looks at metaphors used to talk about being angry:

Being angry is like being hot or on fire.

She burned with indignation.
He has a fiery temper.
Jack was a hot-tempered young man.
Their parents were having a heated argument/debate about where to go.
They were having a blazing/flaming row.
She often flares up over nothing.
It made my blood boil.
I lost my cool.
Alison was getting very hot under the collar.

Losing your temper is like an explosion.

When she told him, he nearly exploded.
He blew up at her.
Steve couldn’t contain his anger any longer.
It was an explosive situation.
I’m sorry I blew my top.
There was another angry outburst from Chris.
Alex was bursting with anger.
She’ll blow a fuse/a gasket if she finds out.
Bob went ballistic when he saw what they had done.
A major row erupted at the meeting.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter


  • Anger can also be cold. A few examples:

    You could tell they hated each other for their interactions were glacial.

    He spoke coldly, his agitation clear.

    She froze him out when their debate crossed the line.

    His contempt was obvious as he spoke coolly to his opponent.

    Her icy gaze pierced him; it was clear she was too angry to argue.

    Revenge is a dish best served cold.

  • Thanks Meghan – that’s an excellent point. You can also describe someone’s attitude or behaviour as frigid or frosty. In fact I’d go so far as to say that cold anger is more dangerous and more upsetting for the recipient than the hot variety.
    Returning to the hot theme, you can also say that sparks fly when people have an angry exchange.

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