And the opposite of Angry is…

…well, a bit complicated.

Yesterday I asked you, as a Moodnudges reader, for your thoughts about a positive word which means the opposite of Angry. If you were one of the almost 300 people who kindly pitched in to help, a massive thank you.

Although the process was set up so you could see other people’s aggregated responses after casting your vote, I thought I’d give you a sense of what we learned, and also encourage you to read the excellent and thoughtful reflections that have been posted on the Moodnudges blog.

Just as Happy seems logically to be the opposite of Sad, you’d think it would be plain-sailing to pinpoint an adjective that complements Angry, and indeed there was one hugely clear favourite: Calm.

Others, however, were also strong contenders – Peaceful, Good-tempered, and Unruffled stood out, for example.

As well as providing a number of possibilities for which you could vote, there was also a field for other suggestions – terms I’d not considered – and these were of great interest. I’ve listed below, in order of mentions, those that were spontaneously suggested by more than one person. The number of mentions is in brackets:

1.   Content/Contented (13)
2.   Serene (11)
3.   Accepting (9)
=4.  At peace (3)
=4.  Chilled (3)
=4.  Cool (3)
=4.  Equable (3)
=4.  Tranquil (3)
=5.  Balanced (2)
=5.  Even-tempered (2)
=5.  Happy (2)
=5.  Laid-back (2)
=5.  Loving (2)
=5.  Mellow (2)
=5.  Pleased (2)
=5.  Unperturbed (2)

If you think about some of the opposites people suggested, it demonstrates (at least it did to me) that people can view anger in differing ways. Some see it as a kind of dissatisfaction. Others as a state of agitation. Other ways of looking at it are as an unhappiness, or a dislike for others.

DJ emailed me a reminder that getting angry can also be a way to demonstrate to others that you care passionately about something, referencing this rather nice tweet from BBC Radio 3:

And thanks to the anonymous reader, by the way, who suggested that the opposite of Angry is Depressed – since “anger is sadness expressed, while depression is sadness repressed.” That got me thinking.

I also loved the tongue-in-cheek suggestions of two readers who recognised how relatively hard it is to find a word that works precisely – what about, they proposed, Unangry or Angerless? Hmm, I do know what you mean.

Incidentally, I’ve been making use of a terrific online resource called Power Thesaurus, that’s ‘crowd-sourced,’ in that users can vote for the most apt synonyms and antonyms.

Their users, just like our readers, have made Calm the top antonym for Angry.

What I found thoroughly intriguing though, was looking up the highest-voted opposite of Anxious, using the same resource.

Yup, you guessed.


2 thoughts on “And the opposite of Angry is…

  1. I guess feelings, like most things, are on a spectrum.
    So if you put Angry at one end, or Anxious, or any other strong emotion, you will travel through Calm.
    Calm is therefore like an interchange! Neutral.
    You might travel on to other strong positive emotions like Serene or Ecstatic, passing through Content and Happy along the way.
    Or you might pick up the line to Slightly Mithered on your way to Anxious. Which can also divert to Angry.
    So less of a spectrum, more like the London Underground!!
    Maybe opposites are just too simplistic for us complex creatures
    Sally S

  2. I was thinking about the times a person might have an angry reaction to an event vs. a person who is angry much of the time. Each of those could have a different opposite end point. Also, many psychologists talk about anger as a secondary emotion so the opposite may vary depending on the underlying emotion that anger is covering or defending.

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