13 Ways to Say You're "Mad as Hell" Across the U.S.

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Running out of ways to say you’re feeling vexed? You’re in luck. We’ve teamed up with our trusty pals at the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) to liven up your livid language. From the Big Easy and New England to the Appalachians and Hawaii, here are 13 regional idioms for “angry.”

1. FÂCHÉ

PO’d in the Bayou? You can say you’re fâché, which translates from French as “angry.”

2. HAVE A BLOOD RUSH

Another Louisiana term. According to the wonderfully titled Gumbo Ya-Ya: A Collection of Louisiana Folk Tales, “He’s havin’ a blood rush” means “He’s getting angry.”

3. HUHU

This Hawaiian term meaning angry or to become angry is also spelled hou-hou. “No Hu Hu” is a popular song, according to a quote in DARE, and has “appeared on road repair signs” to mean “Pardon the inconvenience.” According to Pidgin to Da Max, an illustrated dictionary of Hawaiian “pidgin” words, the haole or non-native Hawaiian phrase “Relax. Don’t get upset” might be translated in pidgin as “No huhu, brah.”

4. JUMP SALTY

African American vernacular meaning “to get angry,” or to respond “in an extreme or unexpected manner.” Despite its awesomeness, jump salty seems to have died out in the 1970s. From James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk (1974): “He warned me if I didn’t take my hands off him we might never get uptown and then my Daddy might jump salty.”

5. BURN THUNDERWOOD

If you’re raging in Georgia, you might say you’re burning thunderwood. Thunderwood is another name for poison sumac, known for its angry, itchy oil.

6. GET ONE'S CHIN OUT

Nettled in Nevada? You could say you’ve gotten your chin out.

7. ALL HORNS AND RATTLES

This wrathful Western term refers to cattle’s horns and snakes’ rattles, according to DARE. As Western Words: A Dictionary of the Old West puts it regarding someone in an all-horns-and-rattles mood, “Maybe don’t say nothin’, but it ain’t safe to ask questions.”

8. ON THE PECK

Another Western saying, on the peck means irritable, angry, or ready to fight. Peck probably comes from the sense to nag or scold. According to some of the quotes in DARE, on the peck also refers specifically to a bad-tempered cow.

9. CHEW FIRE

Those feeling cross in Kentucky may say they’re chewing fire. The term is a blend of the aggressive idioms “chew nails” (as in a hammer and nails) and “breathe fire.” While the latter means to express oneself angrily, the former, according to DARE, refers to “a very mean person”—in other words, someone “mean enough to chew nails.” Other “mean” sayings involving masticating hardware include “chew twenty-penny nails,” “chew nails and spit rust,” and “chew nails and spit submarines.”

10. CHEW ONE'S BIT(S)

Those storming in the South and South Midland might be chewing their bits. This could be related to the horsey idiom, champing or chomping at the bit. To chew one’s bit also means “to argue or talk too much or too loud,” according to DARE.

11. HAVE KITTENS

This Northern phrase similar to have a cow means to lose one’s composure or become agitated or angry. Variations include get kittens, have a kitten, and pass kittens. A cat fit is a “burst of joy or (more often) anger.”

12. BUST A HAME STRING

To bust a hame string—where hame string is an alteration of hamstring—means “to make a sudden great effort,” with a transferred meaning of “to become excessively angry.” Usage is scattered throughout the U.S. with DARE quotes from the Appalachians, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and New Mexico.

13. FEATHER WHITE

This New England term refers to both an angry sea and an angry person. Maine Lingo: A Wicked-Good Guide to Yankee Vernacular says that a “wind-whipped sea, all whitecaps, is said to be feather white,” and hence, “some degree of agitation in a person: ‘He came all feather white to give me a piece of his mind!’”

Guess the Places These Foods Were Named After

The Surprising Origins Behind 9 Modern Slang Expressions

Rihanna attending a 2018 movie premiere with eyebrows on fleek
Rihanna attending a 2018 movie premiere with eyebrows on fleek
ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images

Slang evolves so quickly these days—especially on social media—that it can be hard to recall how we first learned a term, much less where it actually came from. This list will help you figure out whether you should be thanking Erykah Badu, LL Cool J, or an academic journal for some of the expressions you love to throw around in conversation and online.

  1. FOMO

A marketing strategist named Dan Herman claims to have identified the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) phenomenon and published the first academic paper about it in The Journal Of Brand Management in 2000. Yet the credit for the popular usage of FOMO often goes to venture capitalist and author Patrick J. McGinnis, who used the term in 2004 in an op-ed for Harvard Business School’s magazine The Harbus to describe the frenetic social lives of his grad school cohort. (One acronym from the op-ed that McGinnis deserves complete credit for: FOBO—Fear of a Better Option.)

  1. Bye, Felisha!

A diss by any other name might still sting as sweet, but there's something satisfying about ending a conversation with "Bye, Felisha!" (Though it’s often mistakenly written as Felicia.) The phrase comes from the 1995 stoner comedy Friday, co-written by and starring Ice Cube as Craig, a young man in South Central Los Angeles just trying to get to the weekend. When the mooching bit character Felisha (played by Angela Means Kaaya) asks Craig’s friend Smokey (Chris Tucker) if she can borrow his car and then a joint, Craig mutters "Bye, Felisha." And now everyone says it, though usually as an exclamation.

  1. Lit

In the last few years, lit has been literally everywhere—in popular music, speech, memes, and a series of articles about what it actually means. People have been using the word to mean “intoxicated” since at least 1918, when John McGavock Grider, an American pilot who served in England's Royal Flying Corps during World War I, used it in his book War Birds: Diary Of An Unknown Aviator. In recent years, however, hip hop has brought the word back to describe a general excitement that can be achieved with or without substances.

  1. Woke

Neo-soul singer Erykah Badu has been credited with bringing woke into popular usage with the 2008 song “Master Teacher,” which was a collaboration with the musician Georgia Anne Muldrow. But using the word to mean “aware in a political or cultural sense” dates back to 1962, when novelist William Melvin Kelley tackled appropriation of black culture in a New York Times article entitled “If You’re Woke You Dig It.” The Oxford English Dictionary finally “woke” up (sorry) and included this timely definition of the word in 2017.

  1. Humblebrag

Humankind has probably been humblebragging since that one Neanderthal complained about how bloated he felt after eating too many woolly mammoths over the weekend. Credit for the term, however, goes to Harris Wittels, the late comedian and writer best known for Parks and Recreation. He coined humblebrag in 2010, explaining the concept through retweeted examples from celebrities on the @Humblebrag Twitter account before publishing Humblebrag: The Art of False Modesty in 2012.

  1. On Fleek

This phrase was first used in 2014 by a Vine user named Peaches Monroee to describe perfectly groomed eyebrows. But fleek is defined in the annals of Urban Dictionary as early as 2003 as “smooth, nice, sweet” and 2009 as “awesome.” It quickly evolved to encompass anything that’s flawlessly on point, until adults started awkwardly using it and younger, hipper English speakers moved on to the next vernacular phrase we’re probably not cool enough to have heard yet.

  1. First World Problem

A cousin of humblebrag, this phrase is a helpful reminder to count our blessings and stop complaining about trivial setbacks, like a delayed flight or, if you're really fortunate, slow Wi-Fi on the yacht. It may feel like a relatively new addition to the vernacular, but the phrase "First world problem" has been around since 1979, when an academic named Geoffrey K. Payne used it in an article in the journal Built Environment (although Payne was talking about legitimate First World Problems, notably housing). The more ironic usage developed in the 1990s, perhaps helped along by the Matthew Good Band song "Omissions of the Omen," which included the term in the lyrics. But it didn't go mainstream until it became a self-deprecating internet meme around 2005.

  1. Yas/Yass/Yaass

Everyone’s favorite new affirmative was added to the Oxford Dictionary in 2017 and defined as “expressing great pleasure or excitement.” Many first heard it on Broad City, which debuted in 2014. But according to "Reply All," we owe its current popular American usage to the LGBTQ black and Latino ball scene of the 1980s, where attendees hollered “Yas!” at the sight of fiercely strutting drag queens. Ball culture was fertile linguistic ground, by the way: The subculture also gave us voguing (which inspired Madonna), fierce, throwing shade, and more. Call it the Kween’s English.

  1. G.O.A.T.

James Todd Smith, better known as the rapper LL Cool J, clearly loves wordplay: The letters in his stage name stand for Ladies Love Cool James. So it’s no surprise that he brought the acronym G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time, pronounced like the name of the animal) into popular usage with the 2000 hip hop album of the same name. But many trace the use of G.O.A.T as an initialism to boxer and fellow wordsmith Muhammad Ali, who frequently referred to himself as "the greatest" and occasionally "the greatest of all time." In 1992, Ali’s wife Lonnie even incorporated Greatest of All Time, Inc. (G.O.A.T. Inc.) to consolidate and license her husband’s intellectual properties.

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