anxiety

noun

anx·​i·​ety aŋ-ˈzī-ə-tē How to pronounce anxiety (audio)
plural anxieties
1
a(1)
: apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill : a state of being anxious
More Buddhist uprisings in South Vietnam in the spring of 1966 intensified my anxiety.Robert S. McNamara
I felt my anxiety rise as we pressed deeper underground.Jon Krakauer
(2)
medical : an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one's capacity to cope with it
b
: mentally distressing concern or interest
Yet the pace of a child's progress can also be a source of anxiety for mothers and fathers.Susan Ochshorn
c
: a strong desire sometimes mixed with doubt, fear, or uneasiness
… his anxiety to succeed and his continued nervousness over the possible bankruptcy of his shoe company caused her to lecture him about relaxing and caring for his health.William Drake
… present a gamble that consumers, in their anxiety to make an affordable deal, do not always appreciate.Stephen Koepp
2
: a cause of anxiety
… citizens stressed by gnawing economic and social anxieties.Michael Pertschuk
Choose the Right Synonym for anxiety

care, concern, solicitude, anxiety, worry mean a troubled or engrossed state of mind or the thing that causes this.

care implies oppression of the mind weighed down by responsibility or disquieted by apprehension.

a face worn by years of care

concern implies a troubled state of mind because of personal interest, relation, or affection.

crimes caused concern in the neighborhood

solicitude implies great concern and connotes either thoughtful or hovering attentiveness toward another.

acted with typical maternal solicitude

anxiety stresses anguished uncertainty or fear of misfortune or failure.

plagued by anxiety and self-doubt

worry suggests fretting over matters that may or may not be real cause for anxiety.

financial worries

Examples of anxiety in a Sentence

feelings of anger and anxiety She suffers from chronic anxiety. He's been feeling a lot of anxiety about his new job.
Recent Examples on the Web International anxiety over Trump's return One of the international reporters put the focus back on the world stage and the summit, which brought world leaders from the alliance to Washington, D.C. at a critical moment in global affairs. Phillip M. Bailey, USA TODAY, 12 July 2024 Sweating is the physiological response to lowering the body’s temperature during activity (or as a reaction to anxiety). Charlie Carballo, WWD, 11 July 2024 In about 10% of cases, it can be chalked up to a side effect of medications, an infection, a thyroid problem, a vitamin deficiency, a mood disorder such as anxiety or depression, or something else that’s reversible. Tribune News Service, The Mercury News, 10 July 2024 The advisory from the Surgeon General underscores the rising concerns about anxiety, depression and self-esteem issues linked to social media use. Treshonda Baucom, Orlando Sentinel, 10 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for anxiety 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'anxiety.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English anxiete, borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French anxieté, borrowed from Latin anxietāt-, anxietās "apprehensive uneasiness, worry, solicitude," from anxius "worried, disturbed, anxious" + -etāt-, -etās, variant of -itāt-, -tās -ity

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

Time Traveler
The first known use of anxiety was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near anxiety

Cite this Entry

“Anxiety.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anxiety. Accessed 21 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

anxiety

noun
anx·​i·​ety aŋ-ˈzī-ət-ē How to pronounce anxiety (audio)
plural anxieties
1
: fear or nervousness about what might happen
2
: fearful concern or interest
anxiety to succeed

Medical Definition

anxiety

noun
anx·​i·​ety aŋ-ˈzī-ət-ē How to pronounce anxiety (audio)
plural anxieties
1
a(1)
: apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill : a state of being anxious
(2)
: an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one's capacity to cope with it
b
: mentally distressing concern or interest
Yet the pace of a child's progress can also be a source of anxiety for mothers and fathers.Susan Ochshorn, Parenting
2
: a cause of anxiety
… the younger children, faced with a new school, harder subjects and the myriad anxieties that thread childhood and adolescence …Charisse Jones, The New York Times

More from Merriam-Webster on anxiety

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