Definition of anxiety in US English:



  • 1A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

    ‘he felt a surge of anxiety’
    ‘anxieties about the moral decline of today's youth’
    • ‘But in many respects, people's anxieties are not primarily focused on the big issues.’
    • ‘Our worries and anxieties evaporated in an instant, and within half an hour my wife, Jayne, was asking how we could buy one.’
    • ‘And rural police response times are on the rise, adding to rural anxieties.’
    • ‘This asks a great deal of the public and it is not surprising that they have doubts and anxieties.’
    • ‘Companies who exacerbate their employees' anxieties could still be paying for this failure long into the new year.’
    • ‘He found it very soothing as all of his worries and anxieties were rushed out of his head.’
    • ‘High office cuts you off from the real world; makes you prey to anxieties and irrational fears.’
    • ‘Brady met the world in the same way that a child is inclined to do, before we drum our fears and anxieties into him or her.’
    • ‘He thrived on his performing and did not have any related stresses or anxieties.’
    • ‘After all, it can be argued, what's wrong with getting children to talk about their anxieties and problems?’
    • ‘Although he imagines that many of them must have similar problems and anxieties as others in the world.’
    • ‘Meditation allows us to relinquish our worries and anxieties and awaken our innate energy and creativity.’
    • ‘He added that farmers' anxieties had been increasing in Ryedale following the recent new cases in Wharfedale.’
    • ‘Owen's anxieties never quite leave him, despite his charmed, only-child existence.’
    • ‘The man seemed to have grasped the essence of standing aloof from worldly anxieties and vexations.’
    • ‘At the other end of life, projections that we can expect to live longer have become a focus for demographic anxieties.’
    • ‘He appears to have resolved these anxieties by stressing the moral gulf between his characters and his own beliefs.’
    • ‘If only we could negotiate our differences rather than dwell on the anxieties of difference.’
    • ‘The effort may allow some of your students to express their own fears and anxieties.’
    • ‘The worries and anxieties of his years at Vétheuil seemed a distant memory.’
    worry, concern, apprehension, apprehensiveness, consternation, uneasiness, unease, fearfulness, fear, disquiet, disquietude, perturbation, fretfulness, agitation, angst, nervousness, nerves, edginess, tension, tenseness, stress, misgiving, trepidation, foreboding, suspense
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    1. 1.1with infinitive Desire to do something, typically accompanied by unease.
      ‘the housekeeper's eager anxiety to please’
      • ‘Madame des Ursins confesses in her voluminous correspondence that she made herself a burden to the king in her anxiety to exclude him from all other influence.’
      • ‘A soldier describes his anxiety to go home after the civil war ended.’
      • ‘The only cementing force was greed and the anxiety to cling on to power.’
      • ‘In her eagerness to serve her husband, and in perfect innocence of the legal aspect of her act, she does not give the matter much thought, except for her anxiety to shield him from any emergency that may call upon him to perform the miracle in her behalf.’
      • ‘Achievements since are the result of an anxiety to play it safe.’
      eagerness, keenness, desire, impatience, longing, yearning
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    2. 1.2Psychiatry A nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks.
      • ‘However, the fact that she suffers from anxiety and panic attacks is less certain of being admitted.’
      • ‘People may show symptoms of depression and anxiety, panic attacks, or agoraphobia.’
      • ‘As you learn to modify your compulsive behaviour, your anxiety levels should lessen.’
      • ‘They do not seem to know that depression and anxiety can cause eating disorders.’
      • ‘Two points need to be made with respect to the diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder.’


Early 16th century: from French anxiété or Latin anxietas, from anxius (see anxious).