In a situation where you are so angry at something, but there is nothing you're able to do, and you quiver/shake, what is the word or phrase I'm looking for.

An example would be if a group of people harass you but you don't dare retaliate, or a friend has been mistreated, but more thinking a situation where some other person is totally dominant over you and prevents you from taking action.

I guess an example would be: "I stood there quivering with **** rage" but I don't know if it is a single word or a phrase I'm after... both are welcome.

  • 1
    "Quivering with frustration" or "quivering with bottled rage"
    – Qaz
    Apr 12, 2016 at 14:21
  • 1
    bottled-up fury? bottled-up rage?
    – user169988
    Apr 12, 2016 at 14:44
  • I first though "you're boned", but reading the quiver/shake part, it sounds like they might be in need of therapy or anger management soon
    – Xen2050
    Apr 12, 2016 at 15:04
  • "Quivering with the feeling of powerless anger".
    – Graffito
    Apr 12, 2016 at 15:04
  • 3
    How about "Helpless"?
    – Trenin
    Apr 12, 2016 at 16:26

9 Answers 9


Two possibilities come straight to mind: frustrated and impotent - both convey the sense that there is nothing you can do about the situation:

I stood there quivering with frustrated rage.


disappointed; thwarted: an announcer who was a frustrated actor.
having a feeling of or filled with frustration; dissatisfied.

From dictionary.reference.com


I stood there quivering with impotent rage.


not potent; lacking power or ability.
utterly unable (to do something).
without force or effectiveness.
lacking bodily strength or physically helpless.

Also from dictionary.reference.com

  • 4
    I think 'impotent' might be what I was after though both work.
    – Mr. Boy
    Apr 12, 2016 at 10:15
  • 2
    Spratty, since your answer seem to be getting upvoted more than mine, would you be able to edit it to include links to the definitions of the words you've suggested? It'll be a more definitive answer that way. Apr 12, 2016 at 11:42
  • 1
    We seem to be even now, @JohnClifford (not that it's a competition, of course), but I agree that I should have included links to dictionary definitions; I can't quite believe I forgot to do that. I'll edit immediately.
    – Spratty
    Apr 12, 2016 at 12:36
  • 4
    "impotent rage" is definitely what came to mind first. Followed quickly by a certain Smashing Pumpkins song
    – Kevin
    Apr 12, 2016 at 13:34
  • 1
    @neuronet - googling "superlative for frustrated" brings suggestions of "most frustrated" (memidex, wiktionary, wiktionary again, yourdictionary), so I'd have to go with that as I cannot find a single-word superlative anywhere.
    – Spratty
    Apr 13, 2016 at 13:04

If it's a case of being really angry but still being able to restrain yourself, I would go with barely-contained:

contain verb - to keep (one's feelings, behaviour, etc.) within bounds; restrain - dictionary.reverso.net

I stood there quivering with barely-contained rage.

If, rather, it's a case of wanting to vent your rage but being restrained in a way that makes you unable to do so, I would go with impotent:

impotent adjective - not potent : lacking in power, strength, or vigor - M-W

I stood there quivering with impotent rage.


You feel helpless. Helplessness is the feeling of not being able to do anything, and it is indeed very frustrating.

unable to defend oneself or to act without help.

"the cubs are born blind and helpless"

synonyms: dependent, incapable, powerless, impotent, weak; defenseless, vulnerable, exposed, unprotected, open to attack; paralyzed, disabled

"they burst into helpless laughter"

I stood there quivering with helpless rage.


A good word for this instance is apoplectic, which roughly means "overcome with anger or rage".

  • Actually, apoplectic fits very nicely here. Not sure why this answer was downloaded. If you are so angry that you are "affected with, inclined to, or showing symptoms of stroke" (from the m-w definition) then there is certainly nothing that you are capable of doing. Of course, the inability to act comes from the "stroke" caused by the anger itself and not some outside influence as the OP seems to suggest
    – Michael J.
    Apr 12, 2016 at 18:06
  • It's not what I was after personally but it is a great suggestion. +1
    – Mr. Boy
    Apr 12, 2016 at 23:09

The first word that comes to mind to fit that sentence is supressed.

: to keep (something) secret : to not allow people to know about or see (something)
: to not allow yourself to feel, show, or be affected by (an emotion)

-from merriam-webster.com

I stood there quivering with supressed rage.

This implies that you were very angry and wanted to do something about it, but kept the anger inside instead of expressing it.


I guess you can say that you resigned yourself to the situation, although that has more passive connotations:

re·sign (rĭ-zīn′)

v. re·signed, re·sign·ing, re·signs


1. To submit (oneself) passively; accept as inevitable: I resigned myself to a long wait in line.

  1. To give up (a position, for example), especially by formal notification.

  2. To relinquish (a privilege, right, or claim). See Synonyms at relinquish.


To give up one's job or office; quit, especially by formal notification: resign from a board of directors.

Source: TheFreeDictionary.


I really like indignant in this context.


feeling or showing anger because of something that is unfair or wrong : very angry

As a native english-speaker, I think the connotation heavily implies anger at a circumstance which already exists, or is unpreventable.

When the Roman soldiers were asked to take part in the Claudian invasion of 43, they waxed indignant. This was asking them to carry on a campaign “outside the limits of the known world."

—Antonia Fraser, The Warrior Queens, 1988

I think it works well in your example, too.

I stood there quivering with indignant rage


Consider simmer:

: to be felt strongly by someone without being directly shown or expressed

In your sentence:

I stood there quivering with simmering rage.


When you're angry at a situation but there is no action you can take but you take no action, you have endured it.

endure, verb –Google

suffer (something painful or difficult) patiently.

I stood there quivering with an endured rage, as I know that karma will deliver their comeuppance when the time comes.

Quivering with rage, I endured.

If you, "stood there and took it," but you didn't like it, as the phrase normally implies, you endured it.

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