We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Hissy Fit?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

While a three-year-old child's irrational overreaction to a situation might be considered a temper tantrum, a similar response from an adult could earn the proper description "hissy fit." This is somewhat similar to a conniption fit or a tantrum, but is generally applied to someone who has already demonstrated diva-like or high-strung behavior. A nervous bride might have a hissy fit after being told the caterer has abandoned his post, for instance. While the situation may still be under control, the bride may have a temporary emotional outburst triggered by a combination of stress, pressure and nerves. The term is almost exclusively ascribed to women, although some men have been known to have similar over-the-top reactions to distressing news.

The origin of the term is a bit of a mystery, although there are a few working theories. Some believe it was inspired by the sudden and ferocious hissing sounds a cat produces when cornered or confronted by a rival. The hissing might be accompanied by a convincing, if largely ineffectual, display of bared teeth and claws. A person having a hissy fit might also affect such a provocative pose and display flashes of anger. There's little historical evidence to back up this theory, but the comparison between a cornered animal and a person having a tantrum is often accurate.

Another theory is that the "hissy" is derived from the word "hysterical," which originally applied to irrational behavior displayed by women. Certainly a person in the throws of a hissy fit does display overly emotional or hysterical behavior, so the connection between the words does sound plausible. The term is considered to be regional, however, so if it is indeed slang for a hysterical outburst, it did not become universally popular.

There is also the possibility that a hissy fit is derived from the same root as "histrionics," which describes dramatic behavior considered inappropriate for the circumstances. People who suffer from histrionic personality disorder, for example, may display the same lack of emotional control as someone having this type of fit. It's possible that the term became shorthand for a histrionic outburst, although it's not clear whether or not a complex term such as "histrionics" would have made it into the popular vernacular.

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.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to Language & Humanities, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
Discussion Comments
By anon295877 — On Oct 08, 2012

When my father was a young man, an old ranch hand from Montana told him that it referred to a traumatized horse. The horse would gallop about while having a severe case of diarrhea. Naturally, the fecal matter would get flung about.

By anon174403 — On May 10, 2011

Maybe it comes from the word "Hussy" since your definition discusses that this is frequently used for females.

By anon29997 — On Apr 12, 2009

A barnyard goose hisses at you when it feels threatened or it just wants to chase you away.

By anon15280 — On Jul 07, 2008

When I was a young teen in the '60s in Sydney, Australia, we used the term in the expression 'don't throw a histy fit' (not sure of the spelling as it was only ever spoken slang) only later replaced by the term 'hissy fit'. I always took it to be slang for hysterics or histrionics or something in between. - I.Ison

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to Language & Humanities, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a...
Learn more
Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.