Learn English – Is “in a huff ” a commonly used idiom


I have heard this idiom, but I don't know how frequently it is used by people. Please, help me out, because I have no other way checking it.

Best Answer

I'm quite familiar with the phrase "in a huff"—especially as part of the phrase "left in a huff." To see whether "in a huff" remains common in written English, I altered the Ngram chart that Erik Kowal cites in a comment above so that it compares "in a huff" (blue line), "in a stew" (red line), "in a tizzy" (deep green line), "in a snit" (yellow line), "in a fit of pique" (light blue line), "in high dudgeon" (pink line), and "in indignation" (grass green line). Here is the resulting chart for the years 1900 to 2008, with no multiple-year rounding:

As you can see, "in a huff" has grown noticeably more frequent during the period from 1980 to 2008 after declining a bit during the period from 1950 to 1980. The other two most common phrases (of those tracked in the chart) a hundred years ago—"in indignation" and "in high dudgeon"—have dropped off considerably since then.

From the Ngram chart, I see no indication that "in a huff" has fallen into disuse or is obsolescent in written English. In spoken English, the results might differ significantly; but I hear "in a huff" often enough not to be surprised when someone uses it (as I would be if I heard "in high dudgeon").