The aim of this paper was to understand the difference between the words anger (hanger, angur,
angre, angir) and ire, in Middle English, in order to comprehend how speakers of Middle English
conceptualized the two words. In turn, this would help explain their culture and their way of
thinking. To aid in this endeavour, the cognitive linguistic view of metaphor and metonymy was
used. Thus, two hypotheses were proven. Firstly, it was proven that these words are polysemous
in meaning and hence some meanings will differ between the words while some will overlap.
Secondly, it was proven that there is an overlap between the words anger and ire, in metaphorical
meanings, instances of violence and in frequent collocates. 118 examples of the word ire and 118
examples of the word anger were taken from the Corpus of Middle English Prose and Verse and
analysed qualitatively, according to four categories: the Meaning of anger and ire, Metaphors of
anger and ire, Acting on anger and Frequent collocates. The results have shown many interesting
facts. Firstly, both anger and ire share the meaning of wrath, but the word ire is more often
associated with the meaning of wrath, than the word anger. This means that Middle English
speakers more often conceptualized the word ire as wrath, than they did with the word anger.
Secondly, ire has the meaning violence, unlike anger, which can also mean distress. Lastly, both
words share the meaning wrath-sin. Both were conceptualized as a sin, by Middle English speakers.
Both words have metaphors that relate to the human body and the heart as being containers for a
substance, wrath and violence in the case of the word ire and wrath and distress in the case of the
word anger. However, the word anger has fewer metaphors than the word ire, but slightly more
metaphorical metonymies. Both words share the metaphorical metonymy category, which has the
meaning of “physical consequences of anger”. This category is in-between the literal and the
metaphorical state. The words anger and ire also have examples of both angry speech and physical
violence in them. Also, the word ire has the meanings ire-violence-Judgement Day and Ire -
violence - God's wrath, unlike the word anger. Hence, it seems to be more clearly related to
religion. Lastly, the ratio of examples related to violence is similar, i.e., both words refer to
violence in about 30 or so cases. Finally, the words anger and ire appear as collocates, indicating
their similarity. They also appear with the adjective great, denoting a high emotional intensity
attributed to the two words. Thus, the two words were conceptualized as similar to each other and
as high in emotional intensity, by Middle English speakers. The words anger and ire, in Middle
English, were compared to their counterparts in Present Day English. The analysis has shown that
they both overlap and differ in meaning. The differences are a result of diachronic changes in
culture and conceptualization.