On the Order of Intensity of Meaning – Angry

In the light of the current admonition  against ‘adverbs of degree’, I was thinking about words for angry, and how they relate qualitatively to each other.

I could have started with any number of adjectives, but this happened to occur to me on the subject of ire, so I’ll start with that. If there is a smattering of a response in the comments which does not relate to buying aids to sustained performance in an intimate setting then there may be other similar posts to follow.

Let’s try to put these words in order, starting from the least severe and working up.

Let me know if you think I should change the order, or if I have missed any out (probably) or included any that are too obscure (unlikely!).

Rules :

  • There are no absolutely wrong answers. I am as interested in how others perceive these words and their meanings as what the dictionary actually says.
  • I didn’t use a thesaurus or a dictionary, but you can.
  • Try to avoid straying from the core meaning of ‘annoyed’ so not words like ‘hurt’ or ‘upset’.


My list :

  1. Put out
  2. Miffed
  3. Peeved
  4. Disgruntled
  5. Irate
  6. Annoyed
  7. Angry
  8. Furious
  9. Incandescent
  10. Apoplectic


Updated list :

  1. Put out
  2. Miffed
  3. Peeved
  4. Irritated
  5. Disgruntled
  6. Annoyed
  7. Angry
  8. Irate
  9. Furious
  10. Incandescent
  11. Apoplectic


Now I am wondering about “irked”

5 thoughts on “On the Order of Intensity of Meaning – Angry”

  1. Broadly agree. I would put “irate” higher, perhaps between 6 & 7. You have not included “irritated”, which I would put between 3 & 4.

  2. I am not aware of any admonition against “adverbs of degree” but I have not actually been professionally employed as a writer/editor for 15 years, so maybe I missed it! But to the subject — I agree with most of your order, but I would change the mid-cluster of disgruntled, irate, annoyed. angry.

    To begin with, I would put irate at the top of that list, In the states, “irate” is used as a noun in the customer service industry, referring to a customer who has gone over the edge and is popping off at the counter help and demanding to see a manager. You can be disgruntled and annoyed quietly without bothering anyone else, you might not even mention it, but go home and vent to your partner about it. Disgruntled and annoyed are states of mind; irate connotes a state of mind which had propelled one into action of some sort, shouting, demanding, maybe even taking a swing at someone. To my mind irate is an extreme form of anger that for the first time on your list begins to connote the presence of actual danger.
    I would also put disgruntled higher than annoyed. To me, annoyance conveys a temporary emotion, something that happens when your toaster breaks, or you go outside without your phone and have to go back inside to get it. Disgruntled, however, is something deeper. Disgruntled connotes a reaction to a long-term stream of disappointments that leads you to change your opinion on an important aspect of your life. So, for instance, you are annoyed at your boss because he is acting like a jerk again, but you are not yet disgruntled enough to start looking for another job. Annoyance may seem more intense on the surface, but disgruntlement goes deeper and can cause much more agita in the long run. Which is worse depends, in part, on your disposition and character, but I think for any thoughtful person, disgruntlement has to be worse than annoyance.

    To sum up, I would put the middle 4 numbers as:
    4. Annoyed,
    5. Disgruntled
    6. Angry
    7. Irate
    And leave all else the same!
    Cheers from “New England” — home of Pedant Pride!

  3. This is an awesome idea 🙂 At home we have chosen ‘The Fishy Scale of Madness’ to represent the current level of erratic of the inlaws. Only a 1 to 5 scale for simplicity ranging from Koi (very calm) all the way up to Kipper (very flappy).

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