The Meaning of Hot and Bothered: What It Is and How To Use It

This article will give you all of the knowledge you need on phrase hot and bothered, including its definition, origin, use in sentences and more!

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What does hot and bothered mean?

Hot and bothered is an idiom that has two different meanings. First, according to Collins English Dictionary and the Idioms Dictionary, hot and bothered means to be filled with such agitated excitement, worry or anxiety that one cannot think straight or behave with sense. This can stem from the way that, when some people are anxious or worried, their body temperature rises and they may begin to perspire or turn red with worry. It can also take on a slightly angrier connotation, according to Your Dictionary, and can describe someone who is irritated or aggravated.

The second definition of the phrase hot and bothered is an informal term used to mean aroused or turned on. Urban Dictionary states that this can even go so far as to refer to someone who is so sexually aroused that they are unable to think clearly. One should be careful when using the term hot and bothered because of these two very different meanings. If used in polite company, one may believe someone is talking about being aroused when they intend the term to mean flustered.

This colloquial slang term is also similar to the phrase “hot and heavy,” which according to Merriam-Webster, can either be an informal way to mean intense in North American English, or can be used to mean specifically sexually intense, exciting, or active. The phrase can also be seen with dashes in between the words, written as “hot-and-bothered.”

What are synonyms for hot and bothered?

Since hot and bothered has two meanings, one must look at two separate sets of synonyms. Firstly, hot and bothered can mean someone is overcome with anxiety and worry, or discomposed. Below are synonyms and related words from Thesaurus, alongside their definitions from Oxford Languages and American Heritage Dictionary.

  • Flustered – Confused or agitated.
  • Agitated – Troubled or overcome by nerves.
  • Discombobulated – Confused or disconcerted.
  • Muddled – Bewildered or confused.
  • Nonplussed – Confused and surprised.
  • Unhinged – Mentally imbalanced.
  • Disquieted – Worried or uneasy.
  • Frustrated – Distressed or annoyed.
  • Befuddled – Confused, perplexed, or unable to think clearly.
  • Rattled – Worried or nervous, shaken up.
  • Ruffled – Disconcerted or upset.
  • Harried – Strained or harassed.
  • Upset – Unhappy, disappointed or worried.
  • Bent out of shape – Agitated or angry.
  • Out of sorts – Irritable.

The phrase hot and bothered can also be used to mean lustful or amorous to the point of distraction. Synonyms for this definition include:

  • Aroused – Sexually excited.
  • Excited – Turned on sexually.
  • Stimulated – Invigorated.
  • Provoked – Stimulated or feeling strong emotions.
  • Roused – Excited or emotional.
  • Titillated – Stimulated or excited sexually.
  • Inflamed – Having strong feelings.
  • Thrilled – Experiencing excitement and pleasure.
  • Turned on – Excited or stimulated sexually.
  • Fired up – Excited or passionate.

Antonyms for the phrase hot and bothered could include passionless, celibate, calm, chaste, unloving, wooden, composed, unworried, unflappable, or coolheaded, amongst others, according to WordHippo.

How can hot and bothered be used in a sentence?

Hot and bothered can be used in multiple different ways, depending on which definition the user is intending. One should tread lightly when using the phrase in formal and polite company, because the listener may believe one is speaking about being sexually aroused when they did not intend that meaning of the phrase. Hot and bothered is an idiomatic informal expression that could be used on social media sites, but should not be used in professional circumstances like business negotiations, letters, or emails.

First, the phrase can be used to mean flustered or agitated. Kristiana arrived late to her speech tournament, and is recounting the experience to her friend Annie.

Kristiana: I made it just in the nick of time. The judge was calling up the first speaker as I entered the room.

Annie: Thank goodness you made it!

Kristiana: That’s true, but I was so hot and bothered that I forgot my speech halfway through and had to improvise!

Here, Kristiana uses the term hot and bothered to mean worried, flustered, or bent out of shape when describing her experience to Annie. Next, Denise describes a movie she recently watched to her friend Tawny.

Tawny: How was the movie? I’ve been meaning to see it!

Denise: Here’s a tip: do not see this film with your mom like I did. I didn’t know there would be so many sex scenes! I was getting a little hot and bothered in the theatre; I was so embarrassed!

Tawny: Oh my gosh. Yeah, maybe I’ll wait until this one comes to the streaming services.

Denise: You should!

Here, Denise uses the phrase hot and bothered to mean turned on or aroused. She was embarrassed by the mature nature of the film because her mother was in the theatre with her. Overall, the phrase hot and bothered can be used in multiple ways, and one should be careful to clarify which way they mean it.

What is the origin of the phrase hot and bothered?

The phrase hot and bothered came to be by 1921, according to Etymonline. The word hot used to mean lustful, or having sexual desire has been used since the 1500s, and its usage to mean inciting desire is from the 18th century. 

The word hot comes from the Old English hat meaning flaming, used to describe the sun or other warm objects as well as to mean fervent or intense. Bothered comes from the Anglo-Irish pother, used to mean to bewilder or confuse.

Overall, the phrase hot and bothered is an idiom with two meanings. First, it can mean that someone is so worried or anxious that they are unable to think. Secondly, it can mean that someone is so sexually aroused that they are distracted. One should be careful when using this phrase in polite company, because people may think they are using the second definition when they mean the first!