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In my readings yesterday, I encountered the phrase "in anger" a few times. I've never come across this before -- does it just signify a good old rant?

Here are some examples:

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closed as off topic by Thomas Owens, Aaronaught, Mark Trapp Aug 3 '11 at 2:20

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Programmers.SE is for questions about software development: it's not a general purpose Q&A site. If you have questions about the usage of the English language, you may be interested in our sister site, English.SE. –  user8 Aug 3 '11 at 2:21
@Mark Trapp: is this question suitable for English.SE? –  rwong Aug 3 '11 at 4:02
@rwong as the answer below notes, it has already been asked. –  user8 Aug 3 '11 at 4:18
@Mark Trapp - as per my comment's; I never really knew whether this was outside programming. –  wulfgar.pro Aug 3 '11 at 5:57
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3 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I disagree with the other answer, — I don't believe it means making things work at "any cost", and it doesn't necessarily carry a connotation of disregarding standard/best practices or ignoring clean design and readable code.

See Is “used in anger” a Britishism for something? at English Stack Exchange.

In anger is a metaphor for using a tool for a real purpose, to get something done, rather than theorizing and practicing. The idea comes from battle, where a shot fired "in anger" is very different to one on the practice range.

It is true that when you are "on the battlefield" instead of testing or practicing, things must get done, and the scenarios that you find yourself in may bring about additional considerations or problems that you hadn't imagined.

Some will certainly fail, bash their way through, or produce shoddy results in these scenarios. I would guess that all of us have seen way too much of that.

So while it is true that "in anger" does bring some sense of not having the luxury of crafting a masterpiece, it doesn't guarantee that the results are poor design. Just like the best soldiers, when a programmer has the right training, these real problems can sometimes produce the best results.

I'd also point out that the links given in the question make much more sense given this perspective of simply using a tool "for real" than one of creating quick-and-dirty, clumsy-but-working kludges.

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this is what I was hoping for; that is, I was looking for the definition of the phrase, yet was unsure as to whether it was a real English language idiom or rather just someones random use of the phrase. –  wulfgar.pro Aug 3 '11 at 1:32
@wulfgar.pro - "in anger" is used more widely than just programming. It isn't that common (that I know of) outside of its weapons-related origins, but I've certainly heard builders talking about using some new tool "in anger". They weren't planning any kind of violence - or at least I don't think they were. –  Steve314 Aug 3 '11 at 1:43
@Steve314 - lol –  wulfgar.pro Aug 3 '11 at 3:31
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I think it's supposed to mean "for real, as opposed to for practice". It's an analogy to firearms, as in "I fired a gun at the shooting range before, but I've never used a gun in anger (ie, with intent to kill or injure)."

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No, it's about making things work at any cost. When you're coding in anger getting results comes first, without regard to standard software engineering practices like clean design and readable code. It usually follows a long period of non-productive frustration.

It's akin to being "in the zone", although while everything seems to work really well when you're in the zone, when you're coding in anger nothing seems to work and you just bash your way through it. The net effect is remarkably similar.

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great explanation! –  wulfgar.pro Aug 3 '11 at 0:35
-1 - This is NOT what I mean when I use this phrase. –  Stephen C Aug 3 '11 at 8:25
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