ill temper


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ill temper

n
bad temper; irritability

Ill Temper

 

(See also ANGRINESS.)

get up on the wrong side of the bed To be grouchy, peevish, or ill-tempered. Most probably this is another holdover from ancient superstitions associating the right side with good omens and fortune, the left with evil and ill luck. The transference to temperament and mode of arising is centuries old:

Thou rose not on thy right side, or else blest thee not well. (Gammer Gurton, 1575)

have a worm in one’s tongue To be quarrelsome or dyspeptic; to be irritable or grouchy. Dogs suffering from worms are unfriendly and disagreeable just as one with a figurative “wormy” tongue is spiteful and surly. This obsolete expression was used by Samuel Butler in Upon Modern Critics:

There is one easy artifice

That seldom has been known to miss—

To snarl at all things right or wrong,

Like a mad dog that has a worm in ’s tongue.

like a bear with a sore head Irritable, peevish; in a disagreeable mood. The analogy here is self-evident:

He grumbles and growls like a bear with a sore head. (John Davis, Travels, 1803)

This phrase seems to have been shortened at some point to the more common sorehead.

out of sorts Irritable, short-tempered; low-spirited, depressed; under the weather, slightly unhealthy. The origin of this expression is unknown. Some speculate that it derives from the literal typographical out of sorts meaning ‘out of type.’ Only a considerable stretch of the imagination renders this explanation plausible. Out of sorts has been popular since the early 17th century.

He was extremely out of sorts because there was some company in the room who did not please him. (Madame D’Arblay, The Early Diary of Frances Burney, 1775)

This expression can also refer to things and situations, implying that something is amiss or not functioning properly.

serpent’s tongue A shrewish disposition; a tendency toward vicious, vitriolic speech marked by scathing sarcasm. This expression appeared in Shakespeare’s Midsu mmer Night’s Dream (V, i):

Now to scape the Serpent’s tongue, We will make amends ere long.

This phrase, clearly referring to a snake’s forked, venomous tongue, was frequently employed in 18th-and 19th-century poetry.

She is not old, she is not young,
This woman with the serpent’s tongue.
(Sir William Watson, The Prince’s Quest, 1880)

sorehead A poor loser; one who is disgruntled or dissatisfied. The term seems to be an abbreviated version of the phrase like a bear with a sore head. The current meaning of this word is said to have come into use during the presidential campaign of 1848.

ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.Ill Temper - a persisting angry moodill temper - a persisting angry mood    
anger, ire, choler - a strong emotion; a feeling that is oriented toward some real or supposed grievance
irascibility, quick temper, short temper, spleen - a feeling of resentful anger
conniption, fit, tantrum, scene - a display of bad temper; "he had a fit"; "she threw a tantrum"; "he made a scene"
References in classic literature ?
Foot passengers, jostling one another's umbrellas in a general infection of ill temper, and losing their foot-hold at street-corners, where tens of thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day broke (if this day ever broke), adding new deposits to the crust upon crust of mud, sticking at those points tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at compound interest.
But the royal attendants did not heed the animal's ill temper.
His mistress is feeling the penalty of having been fool enough to vent her ill temper on her head-waiter.
and at length even Pluto, who was now becoming old, and consequently somewhat peevish - even Pluto began to experience the effects of my ill temper.
He growled and roared hideously at the dead, insensate thing, and then he dropped it and raised his head to look about in search of some living victim upon which to wreak his ill temper.
In his rage he snapped at a fellow-ape without first discovering the identity of his victim, and was badly mauled for his ill temper, having chosen to vent his spite upon a husky and belligerent young bull in the full prime of his vigor.