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These adjectives mean feeling or showing marked displeasure: an angry retort; a furious scowl; an indignant denial; irate protesters; ireful words; mad at a friend; a wrathful tyrant.
bent out of shape Vexed, irritated, annoyed. This phrase, of recent vintage, has yet to find its way into our lexicons. The implicit analogy between an object’s physical shape and an individual’s mental state suggests that the latter condition has a specific cause, a temporary nature, and contrasts with one’s “usual self.”
cross as two sticks Angry, vexed, out of humor; irritated; in high dudgeon. This British pun alludes to the image of crossed sticks in the shape of an “X.” The image of two sticks “passing or lying athwart each other” (OED) gives rise to associations of contrariness, opposition, and adversity.
He has been as cross as two sticks at not having been asked to dinner at Court. (R. M. Milnes Houghton in Life, Letters, and Friendships, 1855)
fit to be tied Incensed, enraged, livid, irate, very angry. This expression probably comes from the hospital practice of restraining patients who pose a danger to themselves or others. In its contemporary hyperbolic usage, fit to he tied refers to anyone (not just a patient) who is extremely angry or who is acting irrationally, implying that if this person were in a hospital, he would be tied down for his own protection as well as for the protection of others.
It threw the place into a tizzy. … The boss is fit to be tied. When he gets hold of you. … (C. Simak, Strangers in the Universe, 1956)
hot under the collar Angry, mad, infuriated; hot and bothered, distraught, upset, agitated. The allusion is to the red or “hot” color of an enraged person’s neck and face due to the rush of blood to those areas.
After years of this sort of puling imbecility one gets hot under the collar and is perhaps carried to an extreme. (Ezra Pound, Letters, 1918)
The expression dates from at least 1895.
in a snit In a tiff, peeved; agitated, in a fuss or stew, all worked-up. Webster’s Third cites the following usage from Information Please Almanac:
Wall Street brokers were in a snit because nobody bought stocks.
In an obsolete, literal sense snit was ‘the glowing part of the wick of a candle when blown out,’ perhaps the source of the figurative meaning of the word today.
a little pot is soon hot A small person is quickly provoked; a little person is easily roused to anger. A small pot, which naturally contains less water than a larger one, comes to a boil more quickly. Little in this expression apparently means both small in size and small in mind. Shakespeare alludes to the proverb in The Taming of the Shrew (IV, i):
Now, were not I a little pot and soon hot, …
Use of the expression dates from at least 1546.
mad as a hatter See IRRATIONALITY.
mad as a wet hen Very angry, furious, enraged. Chicken farmers maintain that this popular simile has no basis in fact, since hens do not get particularly excited when wet. These female fowl are, however, known for their angry clucking and pecking when provoked.
The chicken farmers of Quebec … are mad as, well, a wet hen. (The Wall Street Journal, July, 1971)
mad as hops Extremely angry; livid, infuriated, incensed; enraged, furious. This expression is probably a twist on hopping mad, implying that a person has become so angry that he hops about in a frenzied rage.
Such a grin! It made me mad as hops! (Harper’s Magazine, October, 1884)
out of countenance Visibly abashed, ashamed, confounded, or disconcerted; upset, annoyed, perturbed. When a person is flustered or upset, the feeling is usually registered on his face. The phrase dates from the 16th century.