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Words that are important to us have many synonyms. Because of my emotional Italian blood, I used "angry" as a test word.

I have experienced nearly all the degrees of anger that the dictionaries listed. I tried to find a situation for each, though I realize my anger is subjective and, at times, frivolous.

Ireful When your Scrabble opponent gets three bingos in one game.

Teed off When someone eats the last slice of chocolate malt cake.

Ticked When you've asked your brother to save the last slice of chocolate malt cake for you, and he eats it anyway.

Irate When your brother goes on and on about how delicious the last slice of chocolate malt cake was.

Indignant When someone cuts in front of you in the coffee-shop line.

Riled When the bus is late.

Angered When you sit on chewing gum on the bus.

Sore When the grocery bag holding the eggs and bananas rips open in the driveway.

Rankled When someone takes your sandwich from the office fridge.

Mad When you remember the sandwich taken from the fridge was pastrami.

Outraged When someone takes a bite from your pastrami sandwich and puts it back in the fridge.

Hot When your spouse has washed the reds with the whites.

Steamed When the dry cleaner ruins your favorite sweater.

Roiled When your team loses 44-23.

Wrathful When your neighbor's dog chomps on your favorite roses.

Fuming When you get to the airport and realize your passport has expired.

Inflamed When your oven breaks the day before you're expecting 12 people to your house for dinner.

Infuriated When you're telling the truth and no one believes you.

Furious When you're assumed to be guilty before the jury settles on a verdict.

Incensed When your daughter's cellphone bill is $1,800.

Enraged When the snowplow scratches and dents your week-old car.

Choleric When the snowplow tips over and crushes your week-old car.

Livid When you learn everyone received a raise except you.

Ballistic When you learn your supervisor has told her supervisor you already make plenty of money.

Apoplectic When you're innocent but found guilty.

The British synonyms for anger are funny: "cheesed off" and "shirty." Three I hadn't heard were "riley," "wroth" and "horn-mad."

Also, a few idioms round out the list: blue in the face, fit to be tied, hopping mad, hot under the collar, in a fume, in a huff, bent out of shape.

That's quite a few synonyms, and I didn't even include emoticons.

The Grammarphobia blog says that English words have so many synonyms because of all the other languages that contributed to ours. The sources include German, Anglo-Saxon, French, Latin, Greek, Arabic, Hindi, Chinese, Yiddish and Algonquian.


Here are a few spellings that people sometimes get wrong because the incorrect spelling just seems right.

Minuscule It means tiny. So you'd think it should contain the letters for "mini," right? Nope, it comes from the Latin root minusculus, which means small.

Pastime What happened to the other "t"? Sports may be a favorite way to pass time, but pastime is spelled oddly.

Consensus This is an agreement among people. I always think the word "census" is in there. But the root is "consent," not the population count.

Memento This is something that makes you remember certain moments in your life. So sometimes people spell it "momento." But "remember" is the root, not "moment."

Sources: The Associated Press Stylebook, Merriam-Webster,, Grammar Girl,, American Heritage Dictionary, Grammarphobia

ActiveStyle on 09/10/2018

Print Headline: Are you angry or rankled?


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