Causing a Furor, Not a Fury

By Maeve Maddox

Although furor and fury derive from the same Latin verb, furere, “to rage, be mad,” when the intended meaning is “public uproar,” furor is the better choice.

Although anger is often one of the emotions expressed in a public upheaval of interest and comment, it isn’t always. Sometimes a furor may be caused by excessive admiration. In fact, the word that Americans and Canadians spell furor and British speakers spell furore, entered English from Italian furore, “enthusiastic popular admiration.” Here’s an example in which furor is used without the connotation of anger:

With the first indication of his appearance, wide-eyed teenage girls gripped the edge of their chairs, stamped their feet in passionate furor and started clutching each other for emotional support.

In the following examples, “to cause a fury” is a poor substitute for “to cause a furor”:

Original: Two cases of Ebola have caused a fury in Texas.
Better: Two cases of Ebola have caused a furor in Texas.

Original: The first Matisse show in New York caused a fury that delighted Stieglitz.
Better: The first Matisse show in New York caused a furor that delighted Stieglitz.

Furor conveys the ideas of objection and argument that fury does not.

Here are some synonyms to clarify the difference between fury and furor:

fury
fierceness
ferocity
violence
turbulence
tempestuousness
savagery
severity
intensity
vehemence
force
forcefulness
power
strength

furor
commotion
uproar
outcry
fuss
agitation
pandemonium
disturbance
hubbub
tumult
turmoil

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3 Responses to “Causing a Furor, Not a Fury”

  • Elisabeth Edwards

    I’ve never seen ‘furor’ spelled without its final ‘e’, which is not silent – the spelling is ‘furore’, and there are three syllables.

  • Maeve

    Elisabeth,
    You don’t say where you live. Furor, spelling and two-syllable pronunciation is common in American English: http://www.howjsay.com/index.php?word=furore&submit=Submit

  • venqax

    What Maeve said. I don’t even see furore with an E or with an extra syllable as a variant in the American dictionaries. Maybe you’re think of Furrori– the Italian sports car that is also not spelled that way. 🙂

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