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hell has no fury like a woman scorned

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No anger is worse than that of a jilted woman. For example, Nancy has nothing good to say about Tom—hell has no fury, you know. This term is a shortening of William Congreve's lines, “Heav'n has no rage, like love to hatred turn'd, nor Hell a fury like a woman scorn'd” (The Mourning Bride, 1697). Similar lines appear in several plays of the same period. Today the proverb is often shortened even more, as in the example.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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