Hot Under The Collar: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
September 14, 2023

"Hot under the collar" means becoming very angry or agitated about something, often suddenly and with a notable intensity. This expression paints a vivid picture of an individual's emotions boiling over, causing them to lose their cool. The phrase itself takes inspiration from the physiological reaction of our bodies when we're feeling upset or angry, often leading to a rise in body temperature.

In short:

  • “Hot under the collar” refers to someone who is visibly angry or annoyed.

What Does “Hot Under the Collar” Mean?

Understanding the idiom in detail helps us unravel its various dimensions.

  • Primary Meaning: It describes a person who is extremely irritated or angry.
  • Secondary Meaning: In some contexts, it may refer to someone embarrassed or uncomfortable.

These meanings are united by the theme of intense emotion linked to physiological reactions.

Where Does “Hot Under the Collar” Come From?

This expression dates back to the early 1900s. The imagery draws from the actual sensation of feeling hot around the neck, a common physical response to anger or embarrassment.

Historical Usage

In the 1948 edition of the Milwaukee Journal, there was a line stating, “He was getting hot under the collar about it.”

10 Examples of "Hot Under the Collar" in Sentences

Here are some examples to illustrate how this idiom can be used:

  • Next time around, don't get so hot under the collar over trivial things.
  • Avoid getting hot under the collar in public places if you want to lay low.
  • She was hot under the collar after losing her keys.
  • The scathing critique of her writing made her feel hot under the collar.
  • Don't let an argument get you hot under the collar; it's not worth it.
  • Receiving another parking ticket in the same week, John was hot under the collar.
  • The thematic conference had everyone hot under the collar with its controversial topics.
  • The politician was hot under the collar during the discussion.
  • Unpredictable weather changes during the outdoor event had organizers hot under the collar.
  • Life has its ups and downs, but that's no reason to get hot under the collar.

Examples of “Hot Under the Collar” in Pop Culture

The phrase has been widely used in various media:

  • In the movie "Anger Management" (2003), the main character is often depicted as hot under the collar.
  • In an episode of "Friends," where Ross gets hot under the collar over a sandwich.
  • The song "Angry All the Time" by Tim McGraw indirectly talks about feeling hot under the collar.
  • In the TV show "The Office," Michael Scott frequently gets hot under the collar.
  • "The Simpsons" has several episodes where Homer is hot under the collar.

Other/Different Ways to Say “Hot Under the Collar"

When someone feels irate or flustered, there are various other ways to describe that sensation.

Some of the synonymous expressions are:

  • Boiling Over: This term also carries the imagery of heat, suggesting a bubbling up of emotions.
  • Steamed Up: This idiom conveys the same idea, emphasizing the steam that rises when water (or, in this case, emotions) gets heated.
  • Fuming: This word paints a picture of anger that's so intense that it's like smoke or fumes are being emitted.
  • In a Huff: A milder way to say someone is upset or irritated.
  • Seeing Red: This colorful expression uses red to symbolize anger or annoyance.

Each of these expressions has nuances but broadly relates to anger, frustration, or irritation.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About “Hot Under the Collar”:

  • What does the idiom "hot under the collar" mean?

The phrase "hot under the collar" refers to a person who is extremely angry or frustrated. It can also mean someone who is embarrassed or uncomfortable.

  • Where did the idiom originate?

The idiom "hot under the collar" originated in the early 1900s and was first found in publications like the Milwaukee Journal. It describes the physical sensation of heat around the neck, often associated with anger or embarrassment.

  • Do people commonly use "hot under the collar" in everyday language?

Yes, the idiom is widely used in English-speaking countries to describe someone who is visibly angry or annoyed.

  • How can I use the idiom in a sentence?

You can use "hot under the collar" to describe someone who is angry, as in, "He was hot under the collar when he found out the news."

  • Can "hot under the collar" have different meanings?

Yes, it can also refer to someone who's embarrassed or uncomfortable, though the primary meaning relates to anger and annoyance.

  • Are there any famous quotes using this idiom?

Though the idiom has been used in various publications, it is hard to pinpoint a specific famous quote that includes "hot under the collar."

  • What are some other ways to express the same emotion?

Some other ways to express this emotion include "Boiling Over," "Steamed Up," "Fuming," "In a Huff," and "Seeing Red."

  • Is the expression specific to any region or culture?

"Hot Under the Collar" is commonly used in English-speaking countries and is not tied to any specific region or culture.

  • How can I avoid getting "hot under the collar"?

One way to avoid getting "hot under the collar" is by practicing mindfulness, deep breathing, or finding healthy outlets for frustration. It's a part of life, and sometimes it's better to lay low.

  • Can you use it humorously or sarcastically?

Yes, like many idioms, "hot under the collar" can be used both humorously and sarcastically, depending on the context and tone of the conversation.

Final Thoughts About “Hot Under the Collar”

The idiom “hot under the collar” is an expressive way of describing someone's anger or frustration. It has been widely used in both literature and pop culture.

In summary, the expression:

  • Refers to being extremely angry or annoyed
  • Originated in the early 1900s
  • It has become a part of everyday language
  • It can be found in various movies, TV shows, and songs

The idiom remains relevant and resonates with many, reflecting a universal human emotion. Whether reading a book, watching a film, or simply conversing with a friend, chances are you'll encounter this expression.

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