anxiety

noun
anx·​i·​ety | \ aŋ-ˈzī-ə-tē How to pronounce anxiety (audio) \
plural anxieties

Essential Meaning of anxiety

1 : fear or nervousness about what might happen feelings of anger and anxiety She suffers from chronic/acute anxiety. See More ExamplesHe suffers from test anxiety. [=excessive fear about taking tests] He's been feeling a lot of anxiety about/over his new job.Hide
2 : a feeling of wanting to do something very much She has always had an anxiety to succeed. [=she has always been anxious to succeed]

Full Definition of anxiety

1a(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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that about 40% of U.S. adults have suffered with depression or anxiety during the pandemic — roughly four times the percentage seen in America’s pre-pandemic days. Karen Kaplan Science And Medicine Editor, Los Angeles Times, 5 Oct. 2021 But in doing so, Russo-Young also had to risk hurting her mothers and her older sister, asking them to relive some of the most anxiety-inducing moments of their lives in excruciating detail. NBC News, 1 Oct. 2021 Some studies have shown that frequent social media use is correlated with depression and anxiety. Washington Post, 29 Sep. 2021 While Alopecia does not typically cause physical pain to the body, emotional and psychological pain can present itself through depression and anxiety. Analis Bailey, USA TODAY, 29 Sep. 2021 After his mission, Johnson sought professional help for depression and anxiety. Kaitlyn Bancroft, The Salt Lake Tribune, 28 Sep. 2021 The sight of her hobbling toward the locker room was anxiety-inducing for a fan base with high expectations. New York Times, 22 Sep. 2021 Those dealing with even mild depression or anxiety are 3.4 times more likely to quit due to mental health, the report found. Megan Leonhardt, Fortune, 20 Sep. 2021 Rumors and threats, anxiety-provoking skirmishes and occasional razor's edge confrontation (think Bay of Pigs and the Delta variant) are the rule of the day, not bombs and bullets. Kent Sepkowitz, CNN, 13 Sep. 2021

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

See More

First Known Use of anxiety

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

History and Etymology for anxiety

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About anxiety

Time Traveler for anxiety

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near anxiety

anvil cloud

anxiety

anxiety attack

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for anxiety

Last Updated

10 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Anxiety.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anxiety. Accessed 18 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for anxiety

anxiety

noun
anx·​i·​ety | \ aŋ-ˈzī-ə-tē How to pronounce anxiety (audio) \
plural anxieties

Kids Definition of anxiety

: fear or nervousness about what might happen Tests cause many people anxiety.

anxiety

noun
anx·​i·​ety | \ aŋ-ˈzī-ət-ē How to pronounce anxiety (audio) \
plural anxieties

Medical Definition of anxiety

1a(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, February 1995
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, 13 Sept. 1994

More from Merriam-Webster on anxiety

Nglish: Translation of anxiety for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of anxiety for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about anxiety

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!