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

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iStock

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!’”

Rosetta Stone Is Offering Big Savings on Language-Learning Subscriptions for a Limited Time

Rosetta Stone
Rosetta Stone

If you’ve been waiting for the right moment to start learning a new language, now might be the perfect time. Through the end of the day on February 14, Rosetta Stone is offering major savings on language-learning software and subscriptions, making this a unique Valentine's Day gift for your significant other or just for yourself. The best deal is still the lifetime subscription for $199 (save $100), but there are other low prices on three-month, 12-month, and 24-month plans. You can read more about them here.

With the online subscription, you can access lessons to learn Spanish, German, French, Chinese and the many other available languages on any device. Along with getting a full course, your online subscription also comes with a phrasebook full of common expressions that are perfect for traveling, games that match your language level, stories to read for extra vocabulary practice, and much more. And the best part is that you’ll be able to participate in these language-learning exercises and courses on your own schedule and take them with you on the go.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

Presidents Day vs. President's Day vs. Presidents' Day: Which One Is It?

welcomia/iStock via Getty Images
welcomia/iStock via Getty Images

Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" implies that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the more than 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


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Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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