anx·​ious ˈaŋ(k)-shəs How to pronounce anxious (audio)
: characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind or brooding fear about some contingency : worried
anxious parents
: characterized by, resulting from, or causing anxiety : worrying
They spent an anxious night.
: ardently or earnestly wishing
She was anxious to learn more.
anxiously adverb
anxiousness noun

Did you know?

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.

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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web More than a century later, Americans are again anxious about their country’s standing and wrestling with the idea of manhood. Jonathan Edwards, Washington Post, 16 July 2024 But when you’re stressed or anxious, your brain may send signals to those nerves and cause additional contractions (medically known as tachygastria). Korin Miller, SELF, 15 July 2024 Parents who model anxious behavior regarding elevated heights may induce the same fears in their children.6 Risk Factors Certain risk factors may make a person more likely to develop acrophobia. Wendy Wisner, Health, 14 July 2024 Some Jews feel more anxious about Mélenchon than the National Rally. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 9 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for anxious 

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of anxious was in 1548

Dictionary Entries Near anxious

Cite this Entry

“Anxious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


anx·​ious ˈaŋ(k)-shəs How to pronounce anxious (audio)
: afraid or nervous about what may happen : worried
anxious about their son's health
: desiring earnestly
anxious to make good
anxiously adverb
anxiousness noun

Medical Definition


anx·​ious ˈaŋ(k)-shəs How to pronounce anxious (audio)
: characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind or brooding fear about some contingency
anxious students
: characterized by, resulting from, or causing anxiety
an anxious time in the hospital waiting room

More from Merriam-Webster on anxious

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