In my native language there exists a phrase Injured snake
A wounded snake is assumed to be more vigorous/dangerous.

Are there any similar phrase/idiom/proverb in English?


The phrase like a cornered rat has a similar meaning, though the rat is trapped rather than injured, the idea that a desperate animal is particularly dangerous still applies.

| improve this answer | |
  • Can you please provide some links to the sources? – dynamite Apr 26 '14 at 6:16
  • google.com.au/… – Neil W Apr 26 '14 at 6:23
  • thanks for the link. Is this commonly used in US/UK? – dynamite Apr 26 '14 at 6:31
  • I believe so, most of the links are from the US and the UK - but I'm in Australia. – Neil W Apr 26 '14 at 6:36
  • TBH this phrase is excellent. However, I couldn't find any references in thefreedictionary.com or in any online dictionaries. Is this commonly used in Australia? – dynamite Apr 26 '14 at 6:41

"like a wounded animal" is quite common actually. Usually used in sports when a defeated team strikes back like a wounded animal.


Tom Watson's United States team will go into the 2014 Ryder Cup in Scotland "like a wounded animal" after snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in Illinois two years ago, said Europe captain Paul McGinley.
Source: http://ca.reuters.com/article/sportsNews/idCABREA251Z520140306

“At London Irish we lost ten games in all competitions but a desperate team is a dangerous team. It’s like a wounded animal, they’re fighting for their last breath.
Source: http://www.bathchronicle.co.uk/Worcester-like-wounded-animal-fighting-breath/story-20973791-detail/story.html

Emotions have a voice; when they're wounded, they may react like a wounded animal. Wounded animals can be quite dangerous, and so can wounded emotions if they're followed.
Source: http://www.joycemeyer.org/articles/ea.aspx?article=overcoming_grief_and_loneliness

| improve this answer | |

Don't mess with a wounded bear.

Don't mess with a wounded tiger.

Other comparators are (a wounded) lion, lioness, wolverine, dog, soldier. Duck!?

| improve this answer | |

The idiom Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned applies

| improve this answer | |
  • Good answer, But too long to be used. Is this archaic? – dynamite Apr 26 '14 at 6:14
  • It is from The Mourning Bride (1697) William Congreve but common in cultural lingo. Congreve is also noted for "O fie, miss, you must not kiss and tell." and "Music has charms to soothe a savage breast". Interestingly, "Hell hath no fury..." is often wrongly ascribed to William Shakespeare – Third News Apr 26 '14 at 6:42
  • thanks for the references :) A commonly used phrase will be of great help. – dynamite Apr 26 '14 at 6:46
  • I should tell you it is used humorously too. – Third News Apr 26 '14 at 6:51
  • @ThirdNews -- I believe there is a name for the phenomenon whereby any witty or wise expression becomes attributed to a much better known person than the actual author. There's a quotation floating around the Internet ascribed to the Buddha that is in fact from an early-90s self-help book. Congreve/Shakespeare confusion is at least plausible. – Malvolio Apr 26 '14 at 7:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.