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What Does It Mean to Be "Hot-Headed"?

Jim B.
Updated May 23, 2024
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"Hot-headed" is an English idiom used to describe someone who is quick to lose his or her temper in any situation. The implication of this idiom is that the person described in this manner is quick to get angry without calmly thinking about the consequences of that anger. As a result, the actions of "hot-headed" people like this when they are in their angered state often get them in trouble. Anger is often associated with heat in many idioms, which is the reason this phrase is used in this manner.

An idiom can be a short phrase or even just a single word that is distinguished by an accepted meaning that is somewhat different than the literal definition of the word or words in question. Popular usage dictates what an idiom means, allowing it to be readily understood by everyone in the culture of its origin. Using these phrases allows a speaker the opportunity to add a little color to a common conversation. One popular idiom used to denote sudden anger is the hyphenated word "hot-headed."

If someone is described with this idiom, it indicates that he or she doesn't have control over their anger. When something displeases a person like this, they tend to act without thinking in response to the circumstances. The idiom also tends to suggest that this is not a temporary state but rather a problem that has bedeviled this person for a long time. As an example, someone might say, "She is so hot-headed that she yells at everyone who tells her something she doesn't want to hear."

Of course, someone who acts in this manner will likely have to answer for the problems caused by their anger. In many cases, such people will fly off the handle at others, even when the people who receive the brunt of their anger might not deserve such behavior. The consequences of such behavior are usually quite significant. For example, consider the sentence, "Someone who is that hot-headed shouldn't be surprised when others don't want to put up with that nonsense."

Many idioms that have to do with anger include some word related to heat, such as someone who "blows off steam" or someone who gets "hot under the collar." In the case of "hot-headed," it can also be used in its noun form. Someone who is a "hot-head" is constantly getting angry at the slightest provocation. Those described with either form generally have serious anger issues.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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Jim B.
By Jim B.
Freelance writer - Jim Beviglia has made a name for himself by writing for national publications and creating his own successful blog. His passion led to a popular book series, which has gained the attention of fans worldwide. With a background in journalism, Beviglia brings his love for storytelling to his writing career where he engages readers with his unique insights.
Discussion Comments
By jonrss — On Mar 11, 2012

My boss is a very hot headed person and it is terrible. I always dread going into his office because you never know when he is going to fly into a rage.

It is hard to work for him because you are always worried about making mistakes. And he never fires anyone, that his not his style. He only ever scream at them.

By nextcorrea — On Mar 10, 2012

I think hot headed people are my very least favorite kind of people. That is because I think anger is so often an unnecessary emotion. It is very disruptive and even more unproductive. What is the point of getting angry? What does it accomplish? Usually nothing, it just makes you look like a jerk who can't control themselves.

By chivebasil — On Mar 10, 2012

My brother is definitely hot headed. I think he spends about ten minutes out of every day being extremely angry and red in the face. Usually this is about the most mundane kind of stuff. The dog wet the carpet or his wife cooked a meal he didn't like or one of the kids left their toys out. Silly stuff always.

But he will fly into a rage, stomp around and raise his voice. Once he gets it out of his system he goes back to being a really great guy but it is like a pressure that build up inside of him and must be let out once daily.

Jim B.
Jim B.
Freelance writer - Jim Beviglia has made a name for himself by writing for national publications and creating his own...
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