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Angry vs. Upset: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 11, 2023
Angry refers to a strong feeling of annoyance or hostility, while upset encompasses a broader range of emotions, including disappointment, distress, or agitation.

Key Differences

Angry is an emotion characterized by antagonism and hostility towards someone or something perceived as deliberately harmful or unfair. On the other hand, upset is a more general term that can include feelings of sadness, disappointment, or mild disturbance, along with anger.
The intensity of anger often implies a stronger, more passionate response, sometimes leading to aggressive behavior or confrontation. Upset, in comparison, can be less intense and may manifest as a feeling of being unsettled or troubled, not necessarily leading to confrontation.
Anger is typically a clearer, more focused emotion directed at a particular individual, situation, or issue. In contrast, upset can be caused by a range of factors, including personal sensitivities or external circumstances, and may not have a specific focus.
Expressions of anger are often more outward and visible, such as raising one's voice or arguing. Upset can be expressed more subtly, through sadness, quiet withdrawal, or a change in mood.
While anger is primarily associated with a sense of injustice or wrong, upset might be linked to a sense of disappointment or an emotional hurt, which may or may not include feelings of anger.

Comparison Chart


Feeling strong annoyance or hostility
Experiencing a range of negative emotions


Often more intense and focused
Can be less intense, more varied

Common Expressions

Aggressive behavior, confrontation
Sadness, withdrawal, general discomfort


Specific grievance or perceived harm
Broad, including disappointment, distress, or annoyance

Behavioral Response

Outward and visible (e.g., shouting, arguing)
Subtle or varied (e.g., quietness, tears, unease)

Angry and Upset Definitions


Angry can imply readiness to confront or argue.
The customer became angry over the delayed service.


Upset is being disturbed or unhappy about a situation.
He was upset about missing the important meeting.


Being angry often involves a hostile reaction to provocation.
He got angry when someone insulted him.


Being upset may involve emotional discomfort or agitation.
The unsettling news left them feeling very upset.


Angry is used when expressing strong displeasure or opposition.
The activists were angry about the new policy.


Upset often indicates a milder, more mixed emotional state.
Losing the game left the team feeling upset and discouraged.


Angry encompasses feelings of rage or indignation.
She felt angry and betrayed by his actions.


Upset can include feelings of disappointment or distress.
She was upset when her friend forgot her birthday.


Feeling or showing anger; incensed or enraged
Angry at my boss.
Angry with her.


Upset can be a reaction to unexpected or unwelcome changes.
The sudden cancellation of the event made many people upset.


Indicative of or resulting from anger
An angry silence.


To cause to overturn; knock or tip over
Upset the flowerpot.


Having a menacing aspect; threatening
Angry clouds on the horizon.


To disturb the functioning, order, or course of
Protesters upset the meeting by chanting and shouting.


Chiefly New England & Midland US Inflamed and painful
An angry sore.


To cause (the stomach) to feel ill.


Displaying or feeling anger.
His face became angry.
An angry mob started looting the warehouse.


To distress or perturb mentally or emotionally
The bad news upset me.


(said about a wound or a rash) inflamed and painful.
The broken glass left two angry cuts across my arm.


Dark and stormy, menacing.
Angry clouds raced across the sky.


Troublesome; vexatious; rigorous.
God had provided a severe and angry education to chastise the forwardness of a young spirit.


Inflamed and painful, as a sore.


Touched with anger; under the emotion of anger; feeling resentment; enraged; - followed generally by with before a person, and at before a thing.
Be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves.
Wherefore should God be angry at thy voice?


Showing anger; proceeding from anger; acting as if moved by anger; wearing the marks of anger; as, angry words or tones; an angry sky; angry waves.


Sweet rose, whose hue, angry and brave.


Sharp; keen; stimulated.
I never ate with angrier appetite.


Feeling or showing anger;
Angry at the weather
Angry customers
An angry silence
Sending angry letters to the papers


(of the elements) as if showing violent anger;
Angry clouds on the horizon
Furious winds
The raging sea


Severely inflamed and painful;
An angry sore


Angry describes feeling intense annoyance or displeasure.
She was angry about the unfair treatment she received.


What causes someone to be upset?

Upset can be caused by various factors, including sadness, disappointment, or mild annoyance.

What does being angry mean?

Being angry means feeling strong annoyance, hostility, or opposition.

Can someone be both angry and upset?

Yes, it's possible to feel both angry and upset at the same time.

What are healthy ways to express being upset?

Talking about feelings, writing in a journal, or engaging in calming activities are healthy ways to express being upset.

Are tears a sign of being upset?

Yes, tears can be a sign of being upset, often indicating sadness or distress.

Can someone be upset without knowing why?

Yes, it's possible to feel upset without being able to pinpoint the exact reason.

Is it okay to walk away when angry?

Walking away can be a good strategy to cool down and prevent escalation.

Can anger be controlled?

Yes, with self-awareness and coping strategies, anger can be managed and controlled.

How can I tell if someone is angry?

Signs of anger include raised voice, aggressive behavior, and confrontational attitude.

Can being upset affect physical health?

Yes, prolonged feelings of being upset can impact physical health, including causing stress-related issues.

What is the difference between anger and aggression?

Anger is an emotion, while aggression is a behavior that can be a result of anger.

What does upset mean?

Upset refers to a state of being unhappy, disappointed, or disturbed.

Is anger always negative?

While often viewed negatively, anger can be a valid emotional response to injustice.

How can I support someone who is upset?

Listening, showing empathy, and offering comfort can help someone who is upset.

Can being upset lead to depression?

If feelings of being upset are persistent and unaddressed, they can contribute to depression.

Can anger be a symptom of a deeper issue?

Yes, chronic anger can sometimes indicate underlying issues like stress, anxiety, or unresolved conflicts.

What are common triggers for anger?

Injustice, frustration, and disrespect are common triggers for anger.

Is yelling a typical response to anger?

Yelling can be a common, though not universal, response to anger.

Is anger a primary emotion?

Yes, anger is considered a primary emotion, often a direct response to a situation.

How can I calm down when I’m upset?

Deep breathing, mindfulness, and taking a break can help calm down when upset.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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