I was wondering whether the adjective "incensed" meaning "enraged" had any relation with the noun "incense" meaning "a product producing a smell when burnt"

Can anybody answer this ? Maybe it has something to do with fire of being lit up ? What do you think ?

2 Answers 2


Incense that you burn come from the Latin incendere, "to burn, to ignite." Likewise to be incensed, or to be enraged, derives from the same word though it is a past tense.

It shouldn't be difficult to see at least the superficial relation between the two. The emotions (and occasionally color) characteristic of someone that is enraged are similar to those of something being ignited: red, explosive, chaotic, hot.

At the root of each is excitation. Excitation of molecules => excitation of a person.

  • The term 'incandescent' is also used to express extreme rage. This is all about emitting light when heated, being so red-faced and enraged that you look like a red hot poker.
    – WS2
    Apr 1, 2014 at 21:57

Though the adjective incensed meaning furious and incense, a substance used in churches because of its smell when burnt seem apart in meaning they have the same Latin source cendere and incendere meaning setting fire to something. "incensed" for furious is used figuratively. If someone is furious it is as if he is on fire. An image of comparison.

Incense is a substance that must be burnt to spread its particular smell. Latin incendere has the past participle incensum (neuter form). And this form is the basis for the aromatic substance incense.

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