Quotations about   anger

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Anger as soon as fed is dead —
‘Tis starving makes it fat.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) American poet
Poem #1509 (c. 1881)
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Added on 24-Mar-19 | Last updated 24-Mar-19
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The intoxication of anger, like that of the grape, shows us to others, but hides us from ourselves; and we injure our own cause, in the opinion of the world, when we too passionately and eagerly defend it.

Charles Caleb "C. C." Colton (1780-1832) English cleric, writer
Lacon, Vol. 1, #240 (1820)
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Added on 18-Jan-19 | Last updated 18-Jan-19
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Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.

Buddha (c.563-483 BC) Indian mystic, philosopher [b. Siddharta Gautama]
(Attributed)

Not authoritatively sourced.
Added on 28-Dec-18 | Last updated 28-Dec-18
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Anger repressed can poison a relationship as surely as the cruelest words.

Joyce Brothers (1927-2013) American psychologist, television personality, advice columnist
“When Your Husband’s Affection Cools,” Good Housekeeping (May 1972)
Added on 15-Oct-18 | Last updated 15-Oct-18
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A man who cannot get angry is like a stream that cannot overflow, that is always turbid. Sometimes indignation is as good as a thunder-storm in summer, clearing and cooling the air.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) American clergyman and orator
Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit, “Man” (1887)
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Added on 3-Aug-18 | Last updated 3-Aug-18
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Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Spurious)

Frequently attributed to Twain, but not found in his writing or in any contemporary sources.
Added on 13-Apr-18 | Last updated 13-Apr-18
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Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns all clean.

Maya Angelou (1928-2014) American poet, memoirist, activist [b. Marguerite Ann Johnson]
In Mary Chamberlain, ed., Writing Lives: Conversations Between Women Writers (1988)
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Added on 6-Apr-18 | Last updated 6-Apr-18
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Learn this from me. Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves.

Mitch Albom (b. 1958) American author, journalist, broadcaster, musician
The Five People You Meet in Heaven, “The Third Lesson” [Ruby] (2003)
Added on 23-Feb-18 | Last updated 23-Feb-18
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Rage is caused by a conviction, almost comic in its optimistic origins (however tragic in its effects), that a given frustration has not been written into the contract of life.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
The Consolations of Philosophy, ch. 3 “Consolation for Frustration” (2000)
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Added on 6-Dec-17 | Last updated 6-Dec-17
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Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) Welsh poet and writer
“Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” (1947)
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First published in Botteghe Oscure (Nov 1951).
Added on 2-Nov-17 | Last updated 2-Nov-17
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Even the best cooks were saucepan throwers when the soufflé collapsed.

Kerry Greenwood (b. 1954) Australian author and lawyer
The Green Mill Murder (1993)
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Added on 19-Oct-17 | Last updated 19-Oct-17
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It is the trifles of life that are its bores, after all. Most men can meet ruin calmly, for instance, or laugh when they lie in a ditch with their own knee-joint and their hunter’s spine broken over the double post and rails: it is the mud that has choked up your horn just when you wanted to rally the pack; it’s the whip who carries you off to a division just when you’ve sat down to your turbot; it’s the ten seconds by which you miss the train; it’s the dust that gets in your eyes as you go down to Epsom; it’s the pretty little rose note that went by accident to your house instead of your club, and raised a storm from madame; it’s the dog that always will run wild into the birds; it’s the cook who always will season the white soup wrong — it is these that are the bores of life, and that try the temper of your philosophy.

Ouida (1839-1908) English novelist [pseud. of Maria Louise Ramé]
Under Two Flags, ch. 1 (1867)
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Added on 3-Oct-17 | Last updated 3-Oct-17
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There are answers which, in turning away wrath, only send it to the other end of the room.

George Eliot (1819-1880) English novelist [pseud. of Mary Ann Evans]
Middlemarch, Book 3, ch. 24 (1871)
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An allusion to Proverbs 15:1 "A soft answer turneth away wrath."
Added on 8-Sep-17 | Last updated 8-Sep-17
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As I walked out the door toward my freedom, I knew that if I did not leave all the anger, hatred, and bitterness behind, that I would still be in prison.

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) South African revolutionary, politician, statesman
(Attributed)

On his release from 27 years behind bars. Quoted by Hillary Clinton from a conversation she had with him.
Added on 16-May-17 | Last updated 23-May-17
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If all else fails, the character of a man can be recognized by nothing so surely as by a jest which he takes badly.

Georg C. Lichtenberg (1742-1799) German physicist, writer
Aphorisms, K.46 (1765-99) [tr. Hollingdale (1990)]
Added on 9-May-17 | Last updated 9-May-17
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There is no lasting hope in violence, only temporary relief from hopelessness.

Kingman Brewster, Jr. (1919-1988) American educator, diplomat
(Attributed)
Added on 29-Nov-16 | Last updated 29-Nov-16
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To anger a conservative, lie to him. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) US President (1901-1909)
(Spurious)

Frequently attributed to Roosevelt but unsourced; first appears in the 2000s. See here for more discussion.
Added on 22-Nov-16 | Last updated 12-Mar-19
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There is nothing more galling to angry people than the coolness of those on whom they wish to vent their spleen.

Alexandre Dumas, père (1802-1870) French novelist and dramatist
The Black Tulip [La Tulipe Noire], ch. 28 (1850)
Added on 5-Apr-16 | Last updated 21-Jul-16
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Anger is the common substitute for logic among those who have no evidence for what they desperately want to believe.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
“The Tyrannosaurus Prescription”
Added on 29-Mar-16 | Last updated 29-Mar-16
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To avoid dissensions we should ever be on our guard, more especially with those who drive us to argue with them, with those who vex and irritate us, and who say things likely to excite us to anger. When we find ourselves in company with quarrelsome, eccentric individuals, people who openly and unblushingly say the most shocking things, difficult to put up with, we should take refuge in silence, and the wisest plan is not to reply to people whose behavior is so preposterous.

Those who insult us and treat us contumeliously are anxious for a spiteful and sarcastic reply: the silence we then affect disheartens them, and they cannot avoid showing their vexation; they do all they can to provoke us and to elicit a reply, but the best way to baffle them is to say nothing, refuse to argue with them, and to leave them to chew the cud of their hasty anger. This method of bringing down their pride disarms them, and shows them plainly that we slight and despise them.

St. Ambrose (339-397) Roman prelate, Bishop of Milan [Aurelius Ambrosius]
De Officiis Ministrorum, ch. 5
Added on 22-Feb-16 | Last updated 22-Feb-16
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My anger has meant pain to me but it has also meant survival, and before I give it up I’m going to be sure that there is something at least as powerful to replace it on the road to clarity.

Audre Lorde (1934-1992) American writer, feminist, civil rights activist
“The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism” (1981)
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Added on 8-Feb-16 | Last updated 8-Feb-16
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When you are offended at any man’s fault, turn to yourself and study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger.

Epictetus (c.55-c.135) Greek (Phrygian) Stoic philosopher
(Attributed)
Added on 15-Oct-15 | Last updated 15-Oct-15
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Bad temper is its own scourge. Few things are bitterer than to feel bitter. A man’s venom poisons himself more than his victim.

Charles Buxton (1823-1871) English brewer, philanthropist, writer, politician
Notes of Thought (1873)
Added on 5-May-15 | Last updated 5-May-15
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Nothing makes the multitude angrier than when someone forces them to change their opinion of him.

Herman Hesse (1877-1962) German-born Swiss poet, novelist, painter
Reflections, #100 [ed. V. Michels (1974)]
Added on 20-Jan-15 | Last updated 20-Jan-15
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True courage … has so little to do with Anger, that there lies always the strongest Suspicion against it, where this Passion is highest. The true Courage is the cool and calm. The bravest of Men have the least of a brutal bullying Insolence; and in the very time of Danger are found the most serene, pleasant, and free. Rage, we know, can make a Coward forget himself and fight. But what is done in Fury, or Anger, can never be plac’d to the account of Courage.

Anthony Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713) English politician and philosopher
Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, Vol. 1, “Sensus Communis” (1711)
Added on 19-Dec-14 | Last updated 19-Dec-14
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One of the first things a boss must lose is his temper — and it must stay lost. Noise isn’t authority and there’s no sense in ripping and roaring and cussing around the office when things don’t please you. For when a fellow’s given to that, his men secretly won’t care whether he’s pleased or not. The world is full of fellows who could take the energy which they put into useless cussing of their men and double their business with it.

George Horace Lorimer (1867-1937) American journalist, author, magazine editor
Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son (1901)
Added on 12-Aug-14 | Last updated 15-Oct-15
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Every man who attacks my belief, diminishes in some degree my confidence in it, and therefore makes me uneasy; and I am angry with him who makes me uneasy.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (3 Apr 1775)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
Added on 11-Apr-14 | Last updated 11-Apr-14
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I understand a fury in your words,
But not the words.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Othello, Act 4, sc. 2 (1604-05)
Added on 7-Feb-14 | Last updated 7-Feb-14
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A Physician is not angry at the Intemperance of a mad Patient; nor does he take it ill to be railed at by a Man in a Fever: Just so should a wise Man treat all Mankind, as a Physician does his Patient; and looking upon them only as sick, and extravagant.

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-AD 65) Roman statesman, philosopher, playwright [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
Moral Essays, “Of Anger [De ira]
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Added on 31-Jan-14 | Last updated 31-Jan-14
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People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing.

Will Rogers (1879-1935) American humorist
(Attributed)
Added on 3-Jan-14 | Last updated 3-Jan-14
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It’s my rule never to lose my temper till it would be detrimental to keep it.

Sean O'Casey (1880-1964) Irish playwright [b. John Casey, a.k.a. Seán O'Cathaseaigh]
“The Plough and the Stars” [1926]
Added on 27-Nov-13 | Last updated 27-Nov-13
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Usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.

Malcolm X (1925-1965) American revolutionary, religious leader [b. Malcolm Little]
Malcolm X Speaks, ch. 9 “With Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer” (1965)
Added on 1-Nov-13 | Last updated 1-Dec-16
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We live in an age of Wrath. It is to be found in the terrorist, the kidnapper, the hijacker, the looter, and in the clenched fist of the demonstrator. […] When we ask what is their justification, they hardly have to give an answer, because our age finds it for them. They are angry. That is apparently enough. We justify their Wrath, so we justify their violence. If someone thinks that he has cause to be angry, he may act from his Anger as destructively as he sees fit. In fact, we have come close to the point of giving to Wrath an incontestable license to terrorize our society, just as an angry man may terrorize his family, but whereas we do not excuse the husband or the father, we extend our sympathy and understanding to the terrorist.

Henry Fairlie (1924-1990) British journalist and social critic
The Seven Deadly Sins Today (1978)
Added on 23-Aug-13 | Last updated 31-Mar-17
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Where two discourse, if the one’s anger rise,
The man who lets the contest fall is wise.

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Protesilaus, fragment 656

Also attributed to Plutarch.
Added on 16-Aug-13 | Last updated 9-May-14
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If you would not be of an angry temper, then, do not feed the habit. Give it nothing to help it increase. Be quiet at first and reckon the days in which you have not been angry. I used to be angry every day; now every other day; then every third and fourth day; and if you miss it so long as thirty days, offer a of Thanksgiving to God. For habit is first weakened and then entirely destroyed.

Epictetus (c.55-c.135) Greek (Phrygian) Stoic philosopher
The Discourses, ch. 18 (c. AD 101-108)
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Courage (in a soldier) is maintained by a certain anger; anger is a little blind and likes to strike out. And from this follows a thousand abuses, a thousand evils and misfortunes that are impossible to predict in an army during war.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [ed. Auster (1983)]
Added on 22-Jul-13 | Last updated 13-May-16
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And were an epitaph to be my story,
I’d have a short one ready for my own.
I would have written of me on my stone:
I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.

Frost - lovers quarrel - wist_info

Robert Frost (1874-1963) American poet
“The Lesson for Today,” A Witness Tree (1942)

Initially read before the Phi Beta Kappa Society, Harvard (20 Jun 1941)

Added on 15-Sep-09 | Last updated 16-Nov-15
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An angry man is again angry with himself when he returns to reason.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings]
Added on 3-Aug-07 | Last updated 15-Feb-17
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Anyone can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not easy.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nichomachean Ethics, II.1109a27 (c. 350 BC)

Alt trans.:
  • "Any one can get angry — that is easy — or give or spend money; but to do this to the right person, to the right extent, at the right time, with the right motive, and in the right way, that is not for every one, nor is it easy."
  • "The man who gets angry at the right things and with the right people, and in the right way and at the right time, and for the right length of time, is commended."
  • "It is easy to fly into a passion -- anybody can do that -- but to be angry with the right person and to the right extent and at the right time and with the right object and in the right way -- that is not easy, and it is not everyone who can do it." [tr.  Thompson (1953); cited as "2.9"]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Jun-17
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He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who ruleth his spirit than he who taketh a city.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Proverbs 16:32 (KJV)
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Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned.

Buddha (c.563-483 BC) Indian mystic, philosopher [b. Siddharta Gautama]
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 15-Sep-14
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There comes a time in every normal man’s life when he must be tempted to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag and begin slitting throats.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
Prejudices: First Series (1919)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 27-Nov-13
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