incense

Incense means both "to make angry" and a stick that burns slowly and emits a strong smell. If your new college roommate burns incense in your tiny dorm room, you might get incensed and storm out.

How can a word that means a substance that is burned for its sweet odor come to mean "make very angry"? Both have to do with the idea of burning, and the Latin root incendere, "to set on fire." A stick of incense must be lit, or set on fire to release its smell. When you are incensed by something, such as your teacher slamming you with homework on the night of the prom, you feel like you are burning with anger.

Definitions of incense
  1. verb
    make furious
    synonyms: exasperate, infuriate
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    type of:
    anger
    make angry
  2. noun
    a substance that produces a fragrant odor when burned
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    types:
    joss stick
    a slender stick of incense burned before a joss by the Chinese
    type of:
    chemical compound, compound
    (chemistry) a substance formed by chemical union of two or more elements or ingredients in definite proportion by weight
  3. noun
    the pleasing scent produced when incense is burned
    incense filled the room”
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    type of:
    aroma, fragrance, perfume, scent
    a distinctive odor that is pleasant
  4. verb
    perfume especially with a censer
    synonyms: cense, thurify
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    type of:
    odorize, odourise, scent
    cause to smell or be smelly
Word Family