Ticked Off – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Would you like to say that something has made you angry or upset, but need a more interesting way to say it? The phrase 'ticked off' is a common saying in the English language that can be used to say just that. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of the phrase.


The phrase 'ticked off' is a common figurative saying in the English language that can be used to mean that someone is angry or upset.

If you say that someone is 'ticked off' then the phrase means that someone is annoyed or upset at something.

The context for the phrase is generally implied by the rest of the discussion, but might also be outright said by the speakers.

The implication of the phrase is that the speaker's experience has been unpleasant in some (usually implied) means.

The phrase can be used as a statement or a question, although it can also be used as a third-party reference when speaking about someone else to one speaker.

The opposite of the saying is that someone is 'not ticked off', which means to say that they are not angry or annoyed at something (as the first speaker might have assumed or asked about).

The phrase 'ticked off' can also refer to something that has been done, or 'ticked off' a list of things that have to be done.

When referring to an action, the second meaning is more likely.

Example Usage

“I mean, I don't know what to say. I was pretty ticked off when I lifted the top of that pizza box and happened to see that there were these ugly, yellow fruit pieces on there. That's why I had to shoot him, your honor.”

“If you're going to go down to the woods tonight, you're in for a big surprise. You're going to be ticked off when you realize that it's not a picnic spot, but where all the town's old people go to fuck on weekends.”

“I guess he was ticked off about the pizza. At least he wasn't wearing his glasses, so he shot me in the shoulder instead of the face.”

“If you're going to tick someone off, you should go big and unplug their Tesla before a big meeting.”


According to language resources like phrases.org.uk, the saying 'ticked off' is likely to have originated from the UK military.

Early use of the phrase could have come from the phrase 'tick' that referred to someone of a lower rank, usually as a joke though sometimes as an outright insult.

When someone is 'ticked off', they would be demoted or considered less.

The phrase would later lose the original meaning and become a dead expression, which renders a figurative meaning when the first literal meaning is no longer known (or relevant) to most of the speakers.

The word 'ticked' first appears on the website Urban Dictionary from 2005, with several variations of the phrase including 'ticked off' and 'ticking off' also listed.

The phrase 'ticked off' can refer to someone who removes something from a to do list, or someone who completes an action.

Phrases Similar to Ticked Off

  • Pissed off

Phrases Opposite to Ticked Off

  • N/a

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Ticked off

Ways People May Say Ticked Off Incorrectly

There are several ways in which someone can use the phrase 'ticked off' in the wrong way, or misunderstand the meaning of the phrase.

The saying can mean that someone is angry or annoyed, though the saying can also refer to someone who has 'ticked off' something from their to do list – or thus, completed it.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Ticked Off

There are several acceptable ways to use the phrase 'ticked off' in conversation or text.

The phrase can mean that someone is annoyed or angry, though it can also be used to say that someone has removed something from a schedule or list of things that they had to do.

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