Although furor and fury derive from the same Latin verb, furere, “to rage, be mad,” when the intended meaning is “public uproar,” furor is the better choice.
Although anger is often one of the emotions expressed in a public upheaval of interest and comment, it isn’t always. Sometimes a furor may be caused by excessive admiration. In fact, the word that Americans and Canadians spell furor and British speakers spell furore, entered English from Italian furore, “enthusiastic popular admiration.” Here’s an example in which furor is used without the connotation of anger:
With the first indication of his appearance, wide-eyed teenage girls gripped the edge of their chairs, stamped their feet in passionate furor and started clutching each other for emotional support.
In the following examples, “to cause a fury” is a poor substitute for “to cause a furor”:
Original: Two cases of Ebola have caused a fury in Texas.
Better: Two cases of Ebola have caused a furor in Texas.
Original: The first Matisse show in New York caused a fury that delighted Stieglitz.
Better: The first Matisse show in New York caused a furor that delighted Stieglitz.
Furor conveys the ideas of objection and argument that fury does not.
Here are some synonyms to clarify the difference between fury and furor:
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