Is hangry another word for hypo?

I am interested in word origins. I’m a little slow picking up on some of the changing vernacular in part due to my advancing age but primarily due to not being fully plugged into the popular culture. I haven’t owned a TV since 2000.

In the last few years I started hearing people use the word, “hangry.” I soon realized that it was a combination of hungry and angry. I found this audio clip discussion of this relatively new term.

One thing that caught my ear in this clip is the mention that the Snickers candy bar company used this term recently in their advertising. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1984. In the year or two leading up to that diagnosis, I experienced several episodes of reactive hypoglycemia. It often occurred a few hours after my morning bowl of cereal, milk and bananas. In one instance I still remember feeling particularly irritable and curing the condition with a Snickers bar!

I learned listening to the above audio clip that the term, hangry, arose in the 1950s and saw a surge of use in the 1990s. I wasn’t aware of that usage during either of those periods.

Looking at the current use of hangry, I think it’s really describing reactive hypoglycemia. Diabetes and its related hypoglycemia are exploding. The popular culture has adopted hangry with a more general meaning but I think it’s really describing hypoglycemia! What do you think?

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For me in 2019, I’m going with the hungry + angry definition.

But … for me in 1974, or 1984, or 1994 with NPH-inspired lows? Oh yeah, hangry = HYPO!!!

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Do you remember using, “hangry,” back in the 70s, 80s, or 90s? I used NPH from 1984-1987. I do remember those deep and random lows that seem to come out of nowhere.

I first heard it in the Snickers commercials - until you posted, I thought their marketing folks came up with it. But, the term does also describe angry babies who haven’t been recently fed.

For me, most of my NPH lows were from missing mealtimes, especially lunch @ 12N or dinner @ 7.

Looking back, I think my significant others/work colleagues were always on the lookout. If I got animated about a subject, I regularly was asked, “Are you low, do you need something to eat?”

One of the things that made NPH lows so insidious, is that it did not peak at exactly the same time every day. It was an insulin variation of “Russian Roulette”! I worked a union job back then with a time-fixed lunch break. I remember having to “sneak” my lunch early due to the vagaries of NPH.

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Congratulations - I have also not owned or had any interest in TV since at least 2000. Monday 5/20/2019 a bunch of millennials did not show up for work and others looked seriously hung over and they were all mumbling something about a Game of Thrones. Sounds like whatever that was all about has sucked a huge part of life out of them.

For diabetics it may be. For everyone else though, I think it’s just the effects of being hungry. I know I can get tired and irritable when I’m actually hungry, even if my blood sugars are totally fine. It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine actually how often people without diabetes will claim to have “low blood sugar” or whatnot, when really they just mean they are hungry and feeling the effects of it. I’ve offered to test people in those moments; to date, they’ve never actually been low.

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Yeah, I have a friend who definitely gets irritable when he’s hungry.

I agree with you! Great research and insight on this word. Being an English teacher I am in full appreciation of your post!

I also experienced being “hangry” before being diagnosed T1D, although I always experienced it when it was time to eat and I didn’t have access to food. I don’t remember having hypoglycemia after a meal… I guess this isn’t really the same thing you’re talking about. I mean, who doesn’t get hangry when they’re starving? :joy:


I tend to agree with this. But I think that when people with diabetes go hypo and become hangry, they experience a dimension of irritation unknown to gluco-normals.

I believe for many people food can act like an addictive substance. I think processed carbohydrates hook many people into an unhealthy relationship. I remember one instance, prior to my carb epiphany, when I polished off almost entire box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal while reading online. I was like the moth headed toward the porch-light.

Sure, being hypo can cause extreme irritability, to a whole different level. Just saying I don’t think the concept of hangry refers to being hypo, but is a broader thing that’s important to remember exists outside of blood sugar fluctuation. Sometimes I even forget that my body’s needs go beyond well regulated blood sugars because I’m so focused on that one aspect, and I’m surprised when my blood sugar is fine but I feel crappy from not eating enough because, oh right, I need to eat for more reasons besides well regulated blood sugar.


Also Cinnamon Toast Crunch is particularly delicious. That could happen to anyone, just saying :slight_smile:


I have known about this condition for years. If I wanted something from my boss at work, I KNEW I had a much better chance of getting it right after her lunch. Among people who know me, My “hanger” is a clear indication of hypoglycemia.

I took NPH from 1991-2005, and lows from NPH (or, worse, the combination of NPH with R) were terrible. I was at school for a majority of that time so had a pretty set schedule, and yet I’d still get wicked lows. For me they wouldn’t make me irritable, though, just incapacitated to the point that I didn’t really know anything was wrong (because my brain wasn’t functioning) and couldn’t get help (because I was semi-conscious or worse). I haven’t experienced any lows even approaching that level of severity since getting onto modern insulin regimens.

I agree! I’ve been in more than one meeting where people insist we have to break for lunch because their blood sugar is low, when it’s actually not. In my experience, people who truly have problems with low blood sugar (even without diabetes) tend to carry their own food with them. I think people just get irritable from being hungry, and thus the term hangry.

For me, hanger and low blood sugar are two separate things. Low blood sugar makes me panicky and sweaty, even if I just ate and the food is taking it’s time to digest. However, even if my blood sugar is fine, if it takes my husband and his friends 2 hours to decide where to eat and I get genuinely hungry, I will start a fight. I try my best to.control myself, but eventually I become really snarky and genuinely unpleasant if I haven’t eaten all day. That’s what hangry feels like to me, the inability to control my temper because my stomach is in the driver’s seat.

I’ve also used the term “hanxious” since some people are more likely to get anxious than irritable when hungry, probably depends on your underlying temperament. But it doesn’t do anyone any favors.