I need a word to describe someone who has been told something they don't like, but they have to accept it.


"We need to travel all the way to Montreal to pick up my sister," Mom says.

Dad sits back in his seat, and __________. "Fine," he says.

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    – tchrist
    Jul 19, 2017 at 13:29

13 Answers 13


As others have mentioned in the comments, the word that my dialect uses for restrained-but-hot-with-anger is


"We need to travel all the way to Montreal to pick up my sister," Mom says.

Dad sits back in his seat and stews.

"Fine," he says.

It's worth noting that this might be an Americanism. MW provides the appropriate "be in a state of suppressed agitation, worry, or resentment", but Oxford Dictionaries considers stewing to only be a synonym for worrying.

Stew's a step under boiling, which is a step under Mr Grimm's fuming, which is a step under ab2's seething, which is properly a much more violent emotion than is appropriate with your example, unless Aunt Agnes crashed Dad's Honda while giving roadhead to her flavor-of-the-month boytoy the last time she was in town and then told the teenagers about it. Sulking is for little kids and suggests Dad is being petulant and petty in his annoyance.

For what it's worth, there are many more descriptive actions that would serve you better if this were some kind of short story. Glaring, staring out the window, rolling his eyes, sighing, counting to ten, 'deadpans' instead of 'says'... any of them work a little better than a word for having restrained anger. Those words will be more appropriate for describing his mood later during the actual trip.

  • 4
    Please provide support for your hierarchy of suppressed anger.
    – ab2
    Jul 15, 2017 at 14:04
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    This is the word that immediately cane to mind when seeing the title. Jul 15, 2017 at 15:20
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    My sense of the flavor or 'stew' is when there is booth true anger, as in 'seethe' but the person using the description wants to imply a certain degree of sulking; when they want to imply that while anger is justified, the level of agitation might have a few dashes, of "sulking" to it. People can get angry without being hurt or feeling the world is unjust or upside down...and there is a bit of that in "stewed' in my opinion.
    – Tom22
    Jul 15, 2017 at 17:13
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    There seem to be quite a few words related to cooking.
    – gnasher729
    Jul 16, 2017 at 20:47
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    @gnasher729 No academic source to point to for it, but I'd imagine the pattern you noted relates to the cooking fire being the most common touchstone for these degrees in the past. There are a few I didn't go into, though, that reference other fires or fire itself, such as smolder and blaze.
    – lly
    Jul 17, 2017 at 11:43

seethe, from Collins English Dictionary

When you are seething, you are very angry about something but do not express your feelings about it.

  • She took it calmly at first but under the surface was seething.

  • She put a hand on her hip, grinning derisively, while I seethed with rage

In the OP's example:

Dad sits back in his seat, seething or

Dad sits back in his seat and seethes.

  • 3
    Nah, too violent, unless Aunt Agnes really pissed him off last Christmas.
    – lly
    Jul 15, 2017 at 13:59
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    I agree. To seethe is actually quite visible anger. This example actually means to say that while she appeared calm, metaphorically, everything was boiling inside her. ."She took it calmly at first but under the surface was seething. " Jul 17, 2017 at 9:00
  • Seethe is actually to boil or bubble, neither of which happens unnoticed. 'Seethed inwardly' would work, but the OP asked for a word. And that's two.
    – Tim
    Jul 17, 2017 at 11:57
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    The question only specifies that the angry person is being quiet about it, not that they're hiding it entirely. You can seethe quietly.
    – Richard
    Jul 17, 2017 at 15:51
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    Seething doesn't really mean boiling anymore, in cooking it's more like simmering or soaking. Seethed mussels for example, are simmered, not boiled vigorously.
    – barbecue
    Jul 17, 2017 at 20:23

Fume is another possibility. It can be used to describe someone being angry in a way that refers to their internal mental state, rather than their actions or behaviour, as described in the question about sitting in quiet anger.

From Wiktionary:

To feel or express great anger.

He's still fuming about the argument they had yesterday.

The literal meaning of "fume" is to emit fumes, and can mean something having an internal fire that you can't see and you only notice the fumes coming out.

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    Nah, too violent, unless they'd already had some discussion about this and he's pissed that he ended up losing the argument. 'Fine' is really too deadpan for 'fume' to work and there's not much acceptance by a fuming person. Like a seething one, they're about to go off at the next provocation.
    – lly
    Jul 15, 2017 at 14:02
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    +1 Fume is a good answer. Although I do have a feeling, which I cannot support, that fuming is a bit more visible than seething -- smoke coming out of the ears, perhaps. :) But fuming definitely works for this Q.
    – ab2
    Jul 15, 2017 at 20:47
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    Fuming is perfect for this usage.
    – barbecue
    Jul 17, 2017 at 20:11
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    @lly 'Fine' can have different inflections. 'Fine' rarely means 'fine' when talking about how people are feeling ... at least in the US. If you ask someone how they're doing and they say 'fine', was it an angry 'fine', a sad 'fine', etc?
    – Joe
    Jul 18, 2017 at 17:01

One such verb is simmer.

Dad sits back in his seat, and simmers. "Fine," he says.



1 (of water or food) stay just below the boiling point while being heated.
‘the goulash was simmering slowly on the stove’
[figurative] ‘the disagreement simmered for years and eventually boiled over’

1.2 Be in a state of suppressed anger or excitement.

‘I simmered a bit and put her remark down to her lack of understanding of classic cars.’

  • This actually is what I find most appropriate. Thanks for pointing it out. Jul 17, 2017 at 9:01

Sounds like sulking to me. From Oxford Dictionaries:


VERB [NO OBJECT]. Be silent, morose, and bad-tempered out of annoyance or disappointment.

Some other definitions emphasize that the silence might be attention-seeking.

So you could say

Dad sits back in his seat, and sulks. "Fine," he says.

(Coincidentally, the example sentence for sulk in Google's boxed definition at the moment is "Dad was sulking," apparently a shortened form of one of Oxford's examples.)

Note that while I wouldn't hesitate to use it in your situation, it's quite likely that "Dad" would find the description insulting, as there are some connotations of childishness. I'm pretty sure I've read somewhere (probably dialogue in a novel) something like "children sulk; men brood"1 or "I [as an adult/a manly man] don't sulk, I brood." This term might suit if you want to be more diplomatic:

  1. VERB [NO OBJECT] Think deeply about something that makes one unhappy, angry, or worried.

This works especially well if you want to emphasize Dad's inner thoughts (something like "Dad is ruminating on his anger"), whereas sulk is better if you want to emphasize the outer behavior ("Dad is sitting in quiet anger").

There are many synonyms for sulk that you might want to look into, though I think sulk is likely the best for of those in common use.

Since you mention in a comment

I could have sworn it started with a "G" like glowered, but I don't know. I only ran into that word once. I thought it was some obscure word you'd need to memorize a 2,000,000 word dictionary to know it even existed.

I'll point out that there really are a remarkable number of gl-/gr- terms with similar or related meanings, such as gloom, glum, grump, grumble, grouch, grouse, groan, grizzle, and your own glower (all of which can be used as verbs). Browsing through the Oxford English Dictionary turns up some more obscure examples, like glump, glout, grumme, and grutch. Perhaps one of these, or another, similarly obscure term is what you recall.


If you're open to a slight rephrasing, huff might work in one of its forms:

Dad sits back in his seat in a huff. "Fine," he says.

Dad sits back in his seat. "Fine," he says with a huff.

Dad sits back in his seat. "Fine," he huffs.

And so forth.

1 Which, all those brooding anti-heroes notwithstanding, is kind of ironic, etymologically.

  • 8
    brood was my first thought when seeing the question.
    – TripeHound
    Jul 15, 2017 at 6:06
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    @lly I strongly disagree that it only connotes childishness; certainly it is not at all complimentary, and children might indulge more often than adults, but the term is very regularly used of adults, as in the example sentence I point out. Someone who "has been told something they don't like" but accepts it with bad grace, followed by angry silence, is a textbook case of sulking, at any age.
    – 1006a
    Jul 15, 2017 at 17:12
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    good complete comprehensive answer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 15, 2017 at 19:16
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    @1006a: just because adults do it, doesn't mean it's not childish behavior. Brood can be positive, sulking can not.
    – jmoreno
    Jul 15, 2017 at 20:17
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    @1006a: it's not a problem, sulks is a great word. Just a point of clarification. Sulk, unlike brood, can never be used in a positive or non-childish manner.
    – jmoreno
    Jul 15, 2017 at 21:00

Smolders (or British, smoulders) is my choice. The word can be used, of course, of a literal fire which burns with little smoke and no flame.It can also be used metaphorically, however, to describe a person's suppressed emotional state.

The dad you describe is perhaps suppressing his desire to protest but for whatever reason suppresses it, as though the anger is just below the surface and could, with the least provocation, explode into a tirade!

  • 1
    Great answer! I wonder though, considering that those fires in the smouldering stage usually get extinguished, how might one express a situation where Dad was angry, but the anger did not die down? Just a possibility. I do not have an answer to the question of how one would know about the anger's persistence without adding an additional sentence referring to the same, but would it be possible, according to you? Cheers! :) Jul 17, 2017 at 9:04
  • Smoldering is usually used to refer to a facial expression, but be careful with Smolder on its own, as it would more often refer to someone being seductive with their eyes: She cast a smoldering glance at the stranger across the bar. If you want to use it for angry, make sure to qualify it: His face smoldered with anger.
    – Beejamin
    Jul 18, 2017 at 5:52


She sat there and begrudgingly accepted what she didn't want to hear.

in other words: the person doesn't like it (is in some way disgruntled) but knows they have to accept what is being said.

Dictionary.com/browse/begrudgingly . ...."to be reluctant to give, grant, or allow: She did not begrudge the money spent on her children's education."

  • 2
    OP: "I could have sworn it started with a G" +1. grudging, MW 2 : done, given, or allowed unwillingly, reluctantly, or sparingly ; grudging compliance "'Fine,' he says, grudgingly."
    – Mazura
    Jul 15, 2017 at 15:38
  • Thanks for that. So I did just double check and here is another definition. dictionary.com/browse/begrudgingly . ...."to be reluctant to give, grant, or allow: She did not begrudge the money spent on her children's education." So I may have used the wrong version. Being irish I think we use the "be" a log more than the "gru..." version :-) n
    – Carina
    Jul 15, 2017 at 15:59
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    I think they're interchangeable. Please consider adding this information to your post. You can click edit on the other posts to see how they're formatted (but perhaps not at your rep, however you should be able to click edited X mins ago).
    – Mazura
    Jul 15, 2017 at 16:04
  • @Mazura The OP only mentions "... it started with a G...." in the comments though.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 15, 2017 at 16:11
  • @Mari-LouA - Using information that's in a comment (that should be incorporated into the question) is how I like to play FGitW. And also, begrudgingly is an obscure word you'd need to memorize a dictionary to know, as it's in the bottom 10% according to MW (grudgingly is bottom 40).
    – Mazura
    Jul 15, 2017 at 16:38

This makes use of words that are either my suggestions or originally given by other people in their answers.

Dad resigned to1 his seat, sulking2. "Fine," he muttered through clenched teeth3.

Note that it might be a bit too wordy and moody. You yourself can similarly combine different suggestions to make your own version of this sentence.


These are links to the source answer.

  1. resigned to — suggested by I wrestled a bear once.

  2. sulking — suggested by 1006a.

  3. muttered through clenched teeth — suggested by PinkyTune (i.e. me)


Resign - accept that something undesirable cannot be avoided.

Dad resigned to his seat. "Fine," he says.

Relent - cease resistance.

Dad sits back in his seat. "Fine," he relents.

Capitulate - cease to resist an opponent or an unwelcome demand.

Dad sits back in his seat, capitulated. "Fine," he says.

Acquiesce - accept something reluctantly but without protest.

Dad sits back in his seat. "Fine," he acquiesces.

  • Great answer! Could you add a link to where the definitions came from? Jul 15, 2017 at 20:40
  • I told my phone "define resign" and Google found definitions. I don't know which sources Google got them from. Jul 15, 2017 at 20:47
  • Google gets them from Oxford Dictionary Online, I believe. Jul 15, 2017 at 20:50
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  • 2
    American English speaker here--your first and third examples sound ungrammatical to my ears. I would phrase them as "Dad sits back in his seat, resigned" (using the related adjective) and "Dad sits back in his seat and capitulates," respectively. However, grammar aside, none of these four words conveys the emotion of anger that the OP wants. They fit the description in the post but not the title.
    – DLosc
    Jul 16, 2017 at 3:17

"We need to travel all the way to Montreal to pick up my sister," Mom says.

Dad sits back in his seat, resigned / subdued / passively aggressive; "Fine," he says.


I'd probably say grumbles based on what my spouse does when I have similar news.

grum·ble ˈɡrəmbəl/ verb 3rd person present: grumbles

  1. complain or protest about something in a bad-tempered but typically muted way.

"We need to travel all the way to Montreal to pick up my sister," Mom says.

Dad sits back in his seat, and grumbles. "Fine," he says.

  • Please provide a citation for the definition. Jul 17, 2017 at 18:40


Dad sat back in his seat and winced.

Definition (Oxford): Make a slight involuntary grimace or shrinking movement of the body out of pain or distress


Pout - Push one's lips or one's bottom lip forward as an expression of petulant annoyance or in order to make oneself look sexually attractive. (OED)

This may apply more to a child than a dad, but still works in some cases.

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