Ask Difference

Seething vs. Turmoil — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on October 28, 2023
Seething refers to intense but unexpressed anger, while turmoil indicates a state of great disturbance, confusion, or uncertainty. They differ in focus: internal emotion vs. external disorder.
Seething vs. Turmoil — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Seething and Turmoil


Key Differences

Seething is a term usually used to describe a state of extreme but often suppressed anger or emotion. It's an internal, bubbling rage that might not be overtly visible. Turmoil, however, refers to a state of great disturbance, confusion, or uncertainty, possibly involving chaotic external circumstances or emotional upset. Turmoil is generally more visible and pervasive, affecting the environment or the individual’s mental state, and is not necessarily suppressed.
Seething generally denotes a simmering intensity, suggesting emotions kept under the surface, ready to explode. It's like a boiling pot with a lid on, symbolizing contained fury or agitation. On the other hand, turmoil is likened to a storm, indicating chaotic, uncontrolled disturbances. It is a broad term that could be applicable to various situations, such as emotional, political, or social unrest, and it implies a lack of control or stability.
The word seething can also imply an intense, swirling motion, depicting something in a state of agitation or tumult, often used metaphorically to represent emotions. It primarily signifies internal experiences and emotional states. Conversely, turmoil can relate to both internal states of mind and external situations. It is a versatile word, depicting anything from emotional struggles to widespread pandemonium, and it emphasizes disorder and disruption.
In literary usage, seething is often associated with imagery of boiling, bubbling, or simmering, symbolizing latent or suppressed emotions, particularly anger or rage. It’s a more subjective and internalized term. Turmoil, conversely, is depicted with imagery of storms, upheavals, or chaos, representing external or internal disorder, disruption, and confusion. It's a more objective term, describing observable states of disturbance and upheaval.

Comparison Chart


Intense but usually suppressed anger or emotion
State of great disturbance, confusion, or uncertainty


Primarily internal, emotional
Can be internal or external, involves disorder


May not be overtly expressed or visible
Generally visible and pervasive


More subjective, relates to individual feelings
More objective, can describe various situations

Literary Imagery

Boiling, simmering, bubbling
Storms, upheavals, chaos

Compare with Definitions


Seething can depict emotions in a tumultuous, swirling state.
The injustice had her mind seething with thoughts of retaliation.


Turmoil is often associated with disruptions, upheavals, and pandemonium.
The sudden news plunged the community into turmoil and despair.


Seething often implies unexpressed, simmering anger or discontent.
Julie sat seething, frustrated by her inability to speak out.


Turmoil symbolizes a lack of stability and control in various situations.
She felt an inner turmoil, torn between her duties and desires.


Seething is the expression of intense but usually suppressed anger.
John was seething with rage after the unfair decision.


Turmoil implies chaotic, uncontrolled disturbances and disorder.
His mind was in turmoil, grappling with the overwhelming information.


Seething signifies bubbling or boiling emotions, ready to erupt.
His comments left the entire room seething in silent anger.


Turmoil can refer to both internal emotional struggles and external upheaval.
The economic turmoil affected millions, causing widespread distress.


Seething is a small village in Norfolk, England, about 91⁄2 miles south east of Norwich. Known as 'Seechin' in Tudor England, it covers an area of 6.78 km2 (2.62 sq mi) and had a population of 341 in 141 households at the 2001 census, the population increasing to 365 at the 2011 Census.Its church, St Margaret, is one of 124 existing round-tower churches in Norfolk.


A state of extreme confusion or agitation; commotion or tumult
A country in turmoil over labor strikes.


To churn and foam as if boiling.


A state of great disorder or uncertainty.


To be in a state of turmoil or ferment
The nation seethed with rebellion.


Harassing labour; trouble; disturbance.


To be violently excited or agitated
I seethed with anger over the insult.


To be disquieted or confused; to be in commotion.


Filled with unexpressed anger, the state of being livid.


To harass with commotion; to disquiet; to worry.


Boiling, bubbling


Harassing labor; trouble; molestation by tumult; disturbance; worrying confusion.
And there I'll rest, as after much turmoil,A blessed soul doth in Elysium.


The action of the verb to seethe.


To harass with commotion; to disquiet; to worry.
It is her fatal misfortune . . . to be miserably tossed and turmoiled with these storms of affliction.


Present participle of seethe


To be disquieted or confused; to be in commotion.


In constant agitation;
A seething flag-waving crowd filled the streets
A seething mass of maggots
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains


A violent disturbance;
The convulsions of the stock market


Seething can represent a state of extreme internal agitation.
After the argument, she was left seething, unable to calm down.


Violent agitation


Disturbance usually in protest


Turmoil is a state of great disturbance, confusion, or uncertainty.
The country was in turmoil following the unexpected political changes.

Common Curiosities

Can turmoil be internal?

Yes, turmoil can represent both internal emotional struggles and external disturbances.

Is seething always visible?

No, seething often implies internal, suppressed emotions and may not be overtly visible.

Does seething always refer to anger?

Primarily, but it can also depict other intense, suppressed emotions or agitations.

How is turmoil defined?

Turmoil is defined as a state of great disturbance, confusion, or uncertainty.

Is seething an active state?

Yes, seething implies active, intense emotional agitation, often simmering beneath the surface.

Can turmoil be widespread?

Yes, turmoil can affect large groups, communities, or even entire countries, especially in times of crisis.

Can turmoil be resolved quickly?

Resolving turmoil might require addressing and solving the underlying issues, which can take time.

Is turmoil always negative?

Typically, yes, turmoil usually denotes negative states of disorder and confusion.

Can turmoil be controlled?

It can be challenging, but resolving underlying issues can mitigate turmoil.

What does seething mean?

Seething refers to intense but usually suppressed or unexpressed anger or emotion.

Can seething affect one’s behavior?

Absolutely, seething, if not managed, can influence behavior, potentially leading to negative actions.

Does turmoil imply a lack of control?

Yes, turmoil usually implies a chaotic, uncontrolled state of disturbance and confusion.

Is addressing seething essential?

Yes, addressing and managing seething emotions is crucial to prevent harmful outbursts and maintain well-being.

Can seething lead to an outburst?

Yes, seething emotions can eventually erupt if not addressed or managed.

Is seething a common human experience?

Yes, experiencing seething emotions at some point is common, particularly when facing injustice or frustration.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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