Have a short fuse

Have a short fuse is an idiom that may not be as old as you think. We will examine the meaning of the expression have a short fuse, its etymology and some example sentences using the term.

To have a short fuse means to anger quickly, to have a volatile temper, to lose one’s composure with little provocation. Someone who has a short fuse will lose his temper quickly, usually for things that do not provoke other people to such high levels of angry emotion. The idiom have a short fuse comes from the fuse used to set off explosives such as dynamite or firecrackers. An explosive item with a short fuse will blow up quickly, perhaps prematurely. The phrase have a short fuse became popular in the mid-twentieth century. Related phrases are has a short fuse, had a short fuse, having a short fuse.


My brother, who had a short fuse and was not known for his political correctness, muttered that they were probably illiterate and couldn’t read. (The Jerusalem Post)

In the report, the man also said that he felt threatened by one of the staff members who stated they had a short fuse. (Moultrie News)

In the ensuing moments, Cantona — who is known to have a short fuse — lunged into him with a kung-fu style kick. (The Economic Times)

‘The figures show that police are increasingly subject to violence during festivals and in areas where clubbers go… drink and drugs often play a role and we see that people have a short fuse.’ (Dutch News)