anx·​ious | \ ˈaŋ(k)-shəs How to pronounce anxious (audio) \

Definition of anxious

1 : characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind or brooding fear about some contingency : worried anxious parents
2 : characterized by, resulting from, or causing anxiety : worrying They spent an anxious night.
3 : ardently or earnestly wishing She was anxious to learn more.

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Other Words from anxious

anxiously adverb
anxiousness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for anxious

eager, avid, keen, anxious, athirst mean moved by a strong and urgent desire or interest. eager implies ardor and enthusiasm and sometimes impatience at delay or restraint. eager to get started avid adds to eager the implication of insatiability or greed. avid for new thrills keen suggests intensity of interest and quick responsiveness in action. keen on the latest fashions anxious emphasizes fear of frustration or failure or disappointment. anxious not to make a social blunder athirst stresses yearning but not necessarily readiness for action. athirst for adventure

Can anxious Be Used as a Synonym for eager?

The fact that individual words can have multiple senses that are closely related in meaning is something which many people find objectionable about the English language. Anxious is an example of such a word, as people will use it to mean "worried," "eager (but with an undertone of worry)," and simply "eager."

The word has been used in the sense of "eager" for a considerable length of time, with evidence going back at least to the 17th century.

Examples of anxious in a Sentence

… to the eye anxious for reform in the city and forgetful of conditions in the countryside … — Joseph A. Amato, Dust, 2000 He was exhausted yet exhilarated, anxious … about getting on the ice with a team that had a chance to win. — Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated, 20 Mar. 2000 The individual states—fearful of losing industry and richer residents to lower-tax rivals and anxious to minimize their burden of needy citizens … Atlantic, May 1997 He was so anxious to get a fly into the water that he had to reproach himself for haste. — John Cheever, The Wapshot Chronicle, 1957 She feels anxious and depressed. People are anxious about the future. He was anxious that the weather would not improve in time for the party. We experienced a few anxious moments as we waited to hear the results of the test. It was an anxious night as she waited for her children to come home. He was waiting at the door with an anxious expression on his face. He was anxious for more news.
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Recent Examples on the Web But more than four years after Britain voted to split — and after thousands of anxious, raging, nationalistic, infuriated headlines — what next for the ordinary bloke? Washington Post, "Brexit is done. What happens to ordinary Brits next week? Not much.," 28 Dec. 2020 At the hospital, according to the lawsuit, Strobridge was noted to be delusional, agitated, anxious, and exhibiting poor judgment. Michael R. Sisak, ajc, "Officer charged in death of man slammed on hospital floor," 23 Dec. 2020 The combination of a cataclysmic pandemic and nail-biting election reduced many Americans to part-time shut-ins and full-time nervous wrecks: tense, anxious, germophobic, claustrophobic, agoraphobic, pretty much everything-phobic. Bill Carter For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, "TV viewers are craving comfort food. 2021 will deliver," 16 Dec. 2020 Perpetually anxious that their beliefs will endanger your life, either through a prolonged pandemic or the collapse of the economy? Los Angeles Times, "Column: Banana bread or ventilators: Can anyone really describe daily life in a pandemic year?," 15 Dec. 2020 Making this more dangerous still is that managements of many major businesses, anxious to find their niche in America’s emerging corporatist state, will certainly play along, and not only in the area of environmental regulation. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, "The Capital Letter: Week of November 2," 6 Nov. 2020 Election Day is finally here, and celebrities are feeling just as anxious, fearful, hopeful, and the other jumbled mix of emotions as the rest of us are today. Jillian Sederholm,, "See celebrities cast their votes in the 2020 presidential election," 3 Nov. 2020 All the stress and isolation of this time has left many people feeling depressed, isolated, and anxious, yet prone to beating themselves up for not writing King Lear or otherwise being sufficiently productive. Sarah Todd, Quartz at Work, "Feeling unproductive and anxious? Try making a “ta-dah” list," 21 Oct. 2020 People on both sides of the political divide are feeling tense, anxious, and overwhelmed right now. Korin Miller,, "'Election Stress Disorder' Is a Real Thing—Here's How to Know You Have It," 6 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'anxious.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of anxious

1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for anxious

Latin anxius "worried, disturbed, uneasy, marked by or inducing anxiety or distress" (adjective derivative from the base of angere "to choke, cause pain to, afflict, vex") + -ous — more at anger entry 1

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Time Traveler for anxious

Time Traveler

The first known use of anxious was in 1548

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Statistics for anxious

Last Updated

12 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Anxious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for anxious


How to pronounce anxious (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of anxious

: afraid or nervous especially about what may happen : feeling anxiety
: causing or showing fear or nervousness
: wanting or eager to do or have something very much especially because of fear or nervousness


anx·​ious | \ ˈaŋk-shəs How to pronounce anxious (audio) \

Kids Definition of anxious

1 : afraid or nervous about what may happen The parents were anxious about the child's health.
2 : causing or showing fear or nervousness an anxious moment
3 : wanting very much : eager She is anxious to get home.

Other Words from anxious

anxiously adverb Her parents waited anxiously for her.


anx·​ious | \ ˈaŋ(k)-shəs How to pronounce anxious (audio) \

Medical Definition of anxious

1 : characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind or brooding fear about some contingency anxious students
2 : characterized by, resulting from, or causing anxiety an anxious time in the hospital waiting room

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