Definition of anxious in English:



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

    ‘she was extremely anxious about her exams’
    • ‘My mother appeared to have been gone a long time and my brothers and I were anxious waiting her return.’
    • ‘She was nervous and excited and anxious and hundreds of other things all at once.’
    • ‘She looked anxious, as if waiting for the bell to toll so that she could bolt from the classroom.’
    • ‘There is actually another group of people who are much more anxious about the outcome than any of the above.’
    • ‘He seemed distressed and anxious but refused an offer to speak to someone else.’
    • ‘The big turning point for me was when I was taking my finals and I felt so anxious and nervous.’
    • ‘The small courtyard is also crowded with anxious relatives and concerned neighbours.’
    • ‘Some may be anxious and nervous or may develop behaviours to avoid stimuli that remind them of past experiences.’
    • ‘Instead of getting ready for bed, she returned to the chair in which she had sat, anxious, waiting for her twin to wake up.’
    • ‘They are done to scare people and to frighten them, to make them anxious and worried.’
    • ‘Those who are sensitive, nervous and anxious, with a reserved nature, are prone.’
    • ‘My biggest personality flaw was catching up to me as I began to feel anxious and worried.’
    • ‘The long wait was over on Tuesday as anxious teenagers across Orkney began receiving exam results.’
    • ‘Now they are also edgy, anxious, fearful, often depressed and undeniably kinder.’
    • ‘Johnny appears disappointed to see him, but generally nervous and anxious as well.’
    • ‘It was unacceptable that anxious patients should wait for hours in crowded accident and emergency departments.’
    • ‘It's different in new company - I start to get anxious and worry what they are thinking.’
    • ‘She is becoming nervous and anxious but there are still four people in front of her.’
    • ‘His anxious relatives are desperate for reassurance that he is safe.’
    • ‘How many times, when you hear of an approaching storm, do you get worried or anxious?’
    worried, concerned, apprehensive, fearful, uneasy, ill at ease, perturbed, troubled, disquieted, bothered, disturbed, distressed, fretful, fretting, agitated, in a state of agitation, nervous, in a state of nerves, edgy, on edge, tense, overwrought, worked up, keyed up, strung out, jumpy, afraid, worried sick, with one's stomach in knots, with one's heart in one's mouth, on pins and needles, stressed, under stress, in suspense, flurried
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    1. 1.1[attributive](of a period of time or situation) causing or characterized by worry or nervousness.
      ‘there were some anxious moments’
      • ‘They began stringing the ball about in a confident fashion not witnessed during the anxious moments late last year.’
      • ‘Residents have many anxious moments and it is only a matter of time before there is a serious accident.’
      • ‘He says that while choosing a career, both students and parents will have anxious moments.’
      • ‘The next round of anxious moments will come when the engineering admission rank list is released.’
      • ‘But I can also remember that situation as such an emotional and anxious time.’
      • ‘In fact they gave their true blue supporters who travelled some very anxious moments.’
      • ‘In the meantime, the family are facing an anxious wait for the next contact with their sister.’
      • ‘All the work and the anxious wait culminated in the final results today.’
      • ‘Then came an anxious wait for these times to be compared with the others before.’
      • ‘It has also been a very anxious day for those who are trying to stop that recall election.’
      • ‘We repeat our thanks to counsel for their most helpful submissions in this very anxious case.’
      • ‘I would imagine his recovery process has been a long and anxious wait for them.’
      • ‘Today his family told the Daily Echo about their anxious wait for news.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, with the independent schools application results due out any day, parents face an anxious wait.’
      • ‘We had a bit of an anxious moment while we looked for the area, only to happily discover it was just north of our turnoff to the east.’
      • ‘Householders faced an anxious wait to see if their homes would be flooded.’
      • ‘However her supporters had some anxious moments before they collected their winnings.’
      • ‘They faced an anxious wait to find out whether any of the orchid had survived.’
      • ‘Parents began arriving at the school within an hour of the accident and many had an anxious wait to hear if their children were hurt.’
      • ‘Generations will remember the long, anxious waits for the jab to save them from the deadly smallpox virus.’
      nerve-racking, stressful, worrying, concerning, fraught, charged, strained, nail-biting, worrisome, difficult, uneasy, uncomfortable
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  • 2[usu with infinitive] Wanting something very much, typically with a feeling of unease.

    ‘the company was anxious to avoid any trouble’
    [with clause] ‘my parents were anxious that I get an education’
    • ‘The three parties are anxious to avoid political turmoil to keep local government stability in the town.’
    • ‘Grim-faced shepherds swing heavy cudgels, anxious to be clear of the road where horns blare impatiently.’
    • ‘The council is anxious to avoid British government interference in the project as it could delay it further.’
    • ‘What we are most anxious to avoid, however, is that that becomes a superstructure.’
    • ‘The question is are we going to exhaust those options, we're not anxious to do that.’
    • ‘Both are anxious to avoid a house price and consumer spending crash.’
    • ‘The Social Services are anxious that women in such situations should know that help is available.’
    • ‘At that point, the government backed down, anxious to avoid further diplomatic damage.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, when he did play there was no keener performer on the field, nor one more anxious to do well for his side.’
    • ‘There was evidence that he was anxious to give up work because of concerns about his health.’
    • ‘She prefers independent travel and is anxious to avoid busy resorts fulls of couples and families.’
    • ‘As children, when my brother Bob and I were anxious to avoid doing our homework, we'd fly round to her house.’
    • ‘He is anxious to avoid having them added to a portfolio as an exclusively commercial asset.’
    • ‘Individuals anxious to avoid making a capital loss sell for a lower price than they would otherwise do.’
    • ‘And above all a population keen, eager, anxious even to embrace their visitors.’
    • ‘He said they were anxious to promote the development of the concert hall.’
    • ‘You can't look up anymore, only down at the ground, anxious to avoid a similar encounter.’
    • ‘Universities themselves seem anxious to avoid misrepresentation in this area.’
    • ‘I was anxious to do something with my son that was honest, that revealed both of us.’
    • ‘His relatives are anxious that this decision and the incident are not repeated.’
    eager, keen, desirous, impatient, itching, longing, yearning, aching, dying
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Anxious and eager both mean ‘looking forward to something,’ but they have different connotations. Eager suggests enthusiasm about something, a positive outlook: I'm eager to get started on my vacation. Anxious implies worry about something: I'm anxious to get started before it rains


Early 17th century: from Latin anxius (from angere to choke) + -ous.