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What is the difference in usage between harangue, tirade and rant? I found these definitions by googling "define X" keyword:

  • Harangue: a lengthy and aggressive speech.
  • Tirade: a long, angry speech of criticism or accusation.
  • Rant: speak or shout at length in an angry, impassioned way.

In which situations is a specific word better to use than the others? What is the difference between them?

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    I'd say tirade & rant are almost interchangeable. Rant is less formal. Harangue, on the other hand, is normally directed at someone specific; right in their face. – Tetsujin Feb 3 '15 at 4:34
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Harangue and rant can be used as either a noun or a verb, but tirade can only be used as a noun.

Harangue as a noun is a lengthy and aggressive speech given to an audience of some sort. Harangue as a verb is lengthy and aggressive speech directed at someone or some group in particular.

Rant as a noun is interchangeable with tirade. Rant as a verb is somewhat different than harangue because it isn't directed at anyone. When you rant, you're making a lengthy, angry speech to anyone within earshot. Tirade and rant can be used to describe angry writing, and I associate harangue with angry speech only (AmE).

A tirade can only be a noun, and is more commonly used than harangue. It is very close to both a rant and a harangue, but it doesn't have the sense of being addressed to an audience like a harangue does, nor the sense of not being directed to any particular audience that rant does.

Whenever she watched cable news, she would rant about the lack of standards in modern journalism. These rants could last for an hour.

Whenever she watched cable news, her tirade on the lack of standards in modern journalism would last for an hour.

Whenever she watched cable news, she would harangue us about the lack of standards in modern journalism. The only way to end her harangue was to turn off the TV.

  • @Ooker I'm glad you found my answer helpful, but I would wait a little while before accepting an answer. There is a good post explaining why on the meta site: meta.ell.stackexchange.com/q/1307/9161 – ColleenV parted ways Feb 3 '15 at 5:40
  • Does tirade simply not imply the target of the audience, and you can use it whenever there are a person to listen or not? – Ooker Feb 4 '15 at 2:36
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    @Ooker You can use tirade anywhere you can use rant as a noun. The difference between them is almost too small to mention in my experience. Harangue is the only one of the three words that I think has a unique connotation. – ColleenV parted ways Feb 4 '15 at 3:01

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