Adam Stansfield gave Exeter the lead in the 13th minute but three second-half goals from Danny Hollands and Brett Pitman (two) gave the Cherries a massive boost in their fight against relegation.
However, Howe said: "At half-time it was probably the angriest I've been. I was fuming because I didn't think we turned up. On another day we could have been more than one goal down.
"I thought Exeter played really well in the first half. We came back into it in the last 10 minutes of the first half but we were slow starting. We could have been punished further.
"I can't repeat what I said in the dressing room but it got a few players going and the second half performance showed what we are all about.
"But it shouldn't take a few angry words. In fairness to the boys, though, they responded and I thought we were outstanding in the second half."