Saturday, February 23, 2008

Confusing Words


We have many idioms which express human emotions. An idiom is a fixed expression, both grammatically and lexically. It is not possible to replace any of the words in the idiom and retain the idiomatic meaning. For example to let it all hang out means to have a very good time. If you said: I'm going to allow it all to hang out, this would change the meaning completely and you might be talking about putting the washing out to dry.

All of the following idioms describing just one human emotion are currently in use. Pay attention to meaning, but pay particular attention too to the context in which they are used as this will help to clarify when and how to use them.

degrees of anger (in increasing intensity)

- to be / get steamed up = feel annoyed
- to be / get hot under the collar = feel irritated
- to be on the warpath = prepare to vent one's anger
- to be up in arms = protest strongly
- to be hopping mad = feel very angry
- to fly off the handle = suddenly lose one's temper
- to throw a wobbler = become suddenly angry with someone and break down in tears
- to do one's nut = totally lose one's temper
- to hit the ceiling / roof = comprehensively lose one's temper
- to blow one's top / a fuse / a gasket = totally lose one's temper
- to rant and rave = to argue loudly and energetically
  1. When I failed to attend the first seminar, my tutor got very steamed up about it.
  2. Because I told him there's no more money to spend on entertaining clients this month, he got a bit hot under the collar this morning.
  3. I've stained the white carpet in the living room, so my mother's on the warpath.
  4. The unions are up in arms since management declared there would be only a 2 percent increase on basic wages this year.
  5. He's hopping mad because his daughter has borrowed his car for the weekend without first asking his permission.
  6. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have flown off the handle like that. Please forgive me.
  7. When she learnt that Bill had been cheating on her, she threw a wobbler and wouldn't stop crying.
  8. My mother did her nut / hit the roof / blew her top when I told her I was quitting university.

    If you need to calm somebody down, you could say:

- Take it easy.

Or you might hear young people say:

- Chill out!

to feel annoyed and disappointed

  • to be miffed
  • to be sick as a parrot


  1. I was a bit miffed when I wasn't invited to Julie's wedding.
  2. I was sick as a parrot at the way we lost the match in the last minute.

to annoy someone

  • to rub someone up the wrong way
  • to make someone's blood boil


  • He certainly knows how to rub you up the wrong way and he's only four years old.
  • It made my blood boil when I saw that he had taken all the credit for the work I'd done.

There are, of course, many emotions (and related idioms) apart from anger.


Be Con Tinh Nghich said...


meomatbu87 said...

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Be Con Tinh Nghich said...

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