Common Idioms To Boost Your IELTS Score – Topic: Anger And Irritation


bite someone’s head off or snap someone’s head off

If someone bites your head off or snaps your head off, they speak to you in an unpleasant, angry way, because they are annoyed about something. [INFORMAL]

Don’t bite my head off just because you’re fed up!

blow a fuse

If you blow a fuse, you suddenly lose your temper and cannot control your anger.

NOTE: A fuse is a safety device found in electrical equipment. If the equipment becomes too hot, the fuse blows, or burns. This breaks the electrical circuit, so that the equipment will stop working.

He’s going to blow a fuse when he finds out about Miller.

a dirty look or a filthy look

If someone gives you a dirty look or a filthy look, they look at you in a way that shows that they are very angry about something.

Tony was being really annoying. Michael gave him a dirty look and walked out of the kitchen.

drive someone up the wall

If something or someone drives you up the wall, they annoy you very much. [INFORMAL]

He’s so uncooperative he’s beginning to drive me up the wall.

a face like thunder

If someone has a face like thunder, they look extremely angry. [BRITISH]

The kitchen had flooded and Mick was raging around the house with a face like thunder.

fly off the handle

If you fly off the handle, you suddenly become very angry. [INFORMAL]

NOTE: The reference here is to an axe head (= the metal cutting part) which has become loose, and so when someone swings the axe, the axe head flies off.

When I finally managed to speak to him, he flew off the handle and shouted down the phone.


give someone hell

  1. If someone gives you hell, they make your life very unpleasant by behaving badly towards you.

Their younger son gives them hell.

  1. If you say that someone gives you hell, they shout at you or speak to you angrily because you have done something wrong.

I got home three hours late and my mum gave me hell.


go through the roof or hit the roof

If someone goes through the roof or hits the roof, they suddenly become very angry, and usually show their anger by shouting at someone. [INFORMAL]

When I told my mother she went through the roof.

She took one look at my hair and hit the roof.


have a chip on your shoulder

If someone has a chip on their shoulder, they feel angry and resentful because they think that they have been treated unfairly, especially because of their background. [SPOKEN]

NOTE: A ‘chip’ is a small piece that has been broken off something larger. There is a story that in America in the past, men sometimes balanced a small piece of wood on one shoulder in the hope that someone would knock it off and give them an excuse to start a fight.

She thinks he has a chip on his shoulder because he didn’t go to university.


have a fit or throw a fit

If someone has a fit or throws a fit, they become very angry and upset.

Mum will have a fit when she hears about this.

She threw a fit when she found me in the dressing room.


lose it

If someone loses it, they become extremely angry or upset. [INFORMAL]

I completely lost it. I was shouting and swearing.


make your blood boil

If something makes your blood boil, it makes you very angry.

NOTE: In medieval times, some people believed that certain emotions changed the temperature of the blood.

It makes my blood boil. He doesn’t like talking to the players but he wants his opinions known.


a pain in the neck

If someone or something is a pain in the neck, they are very annoying. [INFORMAL]

He was a pain in the neck. I was glad when he left my department.

‘Sorry,’ he said. ‘They’ve forgotten to insure the car. It’s a pain in the neck, but what can I do?’


a sore point or a sore spot

You can say that a subject is a sore point with someone or a sore spot for them if it makes them feel angry, embarrassed, or upset.

The continuing presence of foreign troops remains a very sore point with these students.

Slow job growth is a sore spot for the President.

NOTE: If you touch or hit someone’s sore point or sore spot, you mention a subject which makes them feel angry, embarrassed, or upset.

The mention of Jim Kennerly had touched her sore spot.

It was clear by his expression that my question had hit a sore point.




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