I'm looking for a word that can be used in a question like "how is his * right now?", where a possible answer is 'calm'.

Another example is:

Person 1: Calm down!

Person 2: My * is none of your business.

I think that 'temper' is a possible candidate but I am not sure and can't find any better alternatives.

  • Do you mean 'agitation'? – Edwin Ashworth Dec 17 '14 at 17:10
  • Don't think so, because it describes how not-calm someone is, whereas calmness describes how calm someone is. I'm looking for something inbetween – Revolutionair Dec 17 '14 at 17:14
  • Something like "heart rate" is too specific though, right? – tylerharms Dec 17 '14 at 17:16
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    Sorry; I meant 'level of agitation' in your title. I'd use 'vitality' say for 'level of activity'. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 17 '14 at 17:17
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    Are you looking for demeanor? – Autoresponder Dec 17 '14 at 17:42

Psychologists would use level of arousal or arousal level, or if the dimension is calmness-anxiety/fear, anxiety level/level of anxiety. A more common but less precise term might simply be mood.

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  • "arousal level" has a quite different implication that might best be avoided. – Oldcat Dec 17 '14 at 19:40
  • @Oldcat Are you not capable of serious intercourse? – Jim Reynolds Dec 19 '14 at 4:52
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    intercourse has a quite different implication that might best be avoided... Just kidding. – Revolutionair Dec 26 '14 at 23:06

I believe temper is the most appropriate word.

  • A tendency to be of a certain type of mood.

    to have a good, bad, calm, or hasty temper
    He has quite a (bad) temper when dealing with salespeople.

  • State of mind.


state of feeling or frame of mind at a particular time usually dominated by a single strong emotion


Though, temper can also indicate two opposite moods depending on the context:

  • a state of being angry

  • calmness of mind


My very first question on EL&U is related also: Adjectives for Calmness levels

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"Calm down"

"My mood is none of your business"

A temporary state of mind or feeling

Mood denotes both transience and neutrality, as required.

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If the context is social, if you are talking to someone in an office setting or maybe to a student, then I would use words like:

  • exuberance
  • liveliness
  • pep
  • vigor

to refer to that scale of "activeness", where active and calm are at two poles and calm means something like "normal" or "manageable" or "under control".

If the context is "active", like a coach calming down a football player, I'd likely use something more specific, like:

  • heart rate
  • blood pressure
  • body temperature
  • respiration

because, in this case, activeness is being discussed in terms of healthy or unhealthy and calm refers to something like "stable" or "safe" or "able to sit up".

So, depending on the reason for being active, you would refer to your state of activeness in different terms.

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I think what you're looking for is temperament, which Merriam Webster defines this way:

the usual attitude, mood, or behavior of a person or animal

Temper is usually used to talk specifically about a mood of anger, irritability, impatience, etc. For example, "He has a temper" means "He becomes angry often" and "He lost his temper" means "He became angry."

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  • Thanks but I don't think this is correct as the word describes "the usual attitude" and I'm looking for a snapshot – Revolutionair Dec 17 '14 at 17:12
  • In terms of the difference between an active and a calm person, temperament is sensible. But if you needed to refer to the difference between strained and focused in someone lifting weights, would you be referring to their temperament? – tylerharms Dec 17 '14 at 17:15
  • You could clarify by asking something like "What is his current temperament?" or "What is his temperament at the moment?" – Nicole Dec 17 '14 at 17:24
  • Temperament always means something stable or usual. -1 – Jim Reynolds Dec 17 '14 at 19:25

In medicine, there is the Karnofsky Scale :

100 - Normal; no complaints; no evidence of disease. 90 - Able to carry on normal activity; minor signs or symptoms of disease. 80 - Normal activity with effort; some signs or symptoms of disease. 70 - Cares for self; unable to carry on normal activity or to do active work. 60 - Requires occasional assistance, but is able to care for most of his personal needs. 50 - Requires considerable assistance and frequent medical care. 40 - Disabled; requires special care and assistance. 30 - Severely disabled; hospital admission is indicated although death not imminent. 20 - Very sick; hospital admission necessary; active supportive treatment necessary. 10 - Moribund; fatal processes progressing rapidly. 0 - Dead

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