Would it be correct to say?:

She is bristling at her son.

Bristle at(to show anger) is a phrasal verb in which Bristle means a kind of sound. I've never heard of Bristling sound. I know Hissing sound but not this one. So, would it be correct?

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    The image is of an animal with bristles, like a porcupine or certain pigs who hair-like structures are raised when bothered. It is not necessarily anger, it can be annoyance or irritation or feeling indignant. Bristle is usually followed by at but it is not a phrasal verb per se. It just takes the preposition at. – Lambie Apr 24 '18 at 16:07
  • I only want to know whether I can use this statement while expressing my rage on my boyfriend?(I'm now bristling at you, and you aren't listening) – Selena Apr 24 '18 at 16:30
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    Normally, it is descriptive: She bristled at what he said. But not: "I'm bristling at you". Mostly not unless you're a poet. :) "You're getting on my nerves." – Lambie Apr 24 '18 at 16:35
  • If you bristle at your boyfriend, he may call you a sow. Just sayin' google.com/…: – Tᴚoɯɐuo Apr 24 '18 at 17:15

To Bristle at something is not to make a sound, but it would be conveyed by a look or change in tone. Primarily, it occurs internally to the person who is bristling.

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  • Yes, a change in facial expression or tone. – Lambie Apr 24 '18 at 16:14

"Bristle" is a verb, although normally used without a direct object. The image is of an angry animal making its fur stand up as a defensive reaction:

"What the hell do you mean by that?" she bristled.

Because this is generally a soundless action there is no word to describe the sound "bristling" makes -- possibly a "rustle", although this does not imply anger.

However there are various other "angry" verbs that at least suggest some sort of sound, related to the image they evoke. Most of these are related to fire or heat:

  • seethe (like a tightly lidded, boiling pot)
  • steam (like steam escaping from something boiling)
  • simmer (like a liquid on moderate heat, quietly cooking)
  • fume (like a fire producing smoke)
  • boil (like a liquid over high heat)
  • explode (like a violent burst)
  • erupt (like a volcano)

plus a few others

  • spit (like an angry cat or snake)
  • chafe (like two things rubbing against one another)
  • bridle (like an upset horse)
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