If something improves your temper, does it do a good thing or a bad one?

I mean, is improving temper good or bad?

  • 3
    Improving always means to make better. In this case, what's probably confused you is that temper isn't being used to mean predilection to anger, but instead simply mood or state of mind. Always remember that most words have more than one meaning, and if the way a word is used confuses you, you should look it up (in a dictionary) and see if there's another definition which does fit the context. – Dan Bron May 10 '15 at 21:39
  • 1
    We might say that someone prone to anger has a bad temper ,so why not make it better? True, we rarely speak of good-tempered, but a bad one could certainly be improved at least to "even": even-tempered. – Brian Hitchcock May 10 '15 at 21:56
  • Good-tempered seems normal to me. In the Corpus of Global Web English, it occurs 9 times in British sources, 3 in US, 2 in Australian and one in Irish. – Colin Fine May 10 '15 at 22:36
  • Correction: that was for Good tempered without a hyphen. With a hyphen it occurs 54 times: GB 19, US 11, AU 7, IE 4, MY 3, and several 2's and 1's. – Colin Fine May 10 '15 at 22:39
  • And of course well tempered steel has undergone the difficult and risky process of tempering without shattering, and with the desired effect on both hardness and ductility. – Pieter Geerkens May 11 '15 at 2:08

'Temper' is something that can be good or bad. A nasty, grumpy person has a bad temper; a sweet, kind person has a good temper. So 'improving one's temper' makes the temper better. We say things like "he has a temper" to mean a bad temper, but it isn't the original usage.

| improve this answer | |

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.