Does getting mad mean the same thing as getting upset? Is there any difference at all?

closed as general reference by Alenanno, simchona, JSBձոգչ, Unreason, Thursagen Aug 19 '11 at 11:49

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 2
    Hello language hacker. If you search those terms (mad and upset) in dictionaries you'll get an answer. Maybe not in all dictionaries, but most, yes. I voted to close your question as General Reference. If there is something more you wanted to know, you can edit and rephrase your question. :) – Alenanno Aug 18 '11 at 7:36
  • @Alenanno I think this question is more nuanced than a general reference because "getting upset" doesn't have the same meaning as "becoming upset", whereas "getting mad" does have the same meaning as "becoming mad." – Jeremy Aug 18 '11 at 7:40
  • @Alenanno: Agreed. I'm deleting my answer (I should have realized it was Gen Ref on my own) – simchona Aug 18 '11 at 7:40
  • @Jeremy: To me, "getting" and "becoming" upset are the same. – simchona Aug 18 '11 at 7:42
  • @Jeremy: Whether they are the same, it doesn't really matter (I thought they were the same, though). The point is that if he looks up the terms "mad" and "upset", he will likely find the expressions in the definition. – Alenanno Aug 18 '11 at 7:45

In the US at least, being "upset" is not quite the same as being "mad". To be upset is to be mentally unsettled, moved out of your mental or emotional comfort zone by something. The resulting emotions from the upsetting stimulus could be sadness, frustration, hysteria, and/or anger.

By contrast, being "mad" implies one singular emotion, anger. "Mad" is synonymous with "angry"; though the term "mad" originally meant "crazy" or "insane" in American English, and in the UK it still does, but it is commonly used in the phrase "mad with rage", which was shortened back to "mad" in its current AE meaning.


The adjectives mad and upset are slightly different. Mad means:

enraged; greatly provoked or irritated; angry.

While upset means:

to disturb mentally or emotionally; perturb

You would get mad if somebody did something to make you angry, but you would get upset when someone did something to perturb you mentally. They are very slightly different, because mad and upset are different reactions to events that may happen.


"Getting mad" is more common in the US than the UK but in common usage their meaning is roughly the same. That's not to say "mad" and "upset" are the same thing.

The main difference between "getting mad" and "getting upset" is that "upset" could be just very sad and tearful, whereas "mad" implies acting irrationally, usually through anger rather than sadness.

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