Definition of worry in US English:


verbworries, worried, worrying

  • 1no object Give way to anxiety or unease; allow one's mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.

    ‘he worried about his soldier sons in the war’
    with clause ‘I began to worry whether I had done the right thing’
    • ‘Even when I don't want to be worrying, the anxiety is always in the background like a taut violin string.’
    • ‘Pleasure is mixed with anxiety as you worry about the smooth running of business and availability of significant opportunities.’
    • ‘It has done nothing to curb my anxiety; in fact, it has only made my anxiety worse because I worry about being tired all the time.’
    • ‘It is naive to think that non-Hindus will worry about issues which concern Hindus.’
    • ‘Police had worried about trouble after the match but apart from a few incidents of drunkenness the upset didn't cause patrols any problems.’
    • ‘Matt worried about the security aspect, I worried about the actual wedding.’
    • ‘Tourism Concern worries that undefined ecotourism falls prey to ‘greenwash’ marketing.’
    • ‘Moose recalls that he had difficulty sleeping during the investigation and that he worried about whether he would be allowed to remain in control of the murder hunt.’
    • ‘White often needed other people to convince him that he really could bat and bowl among the best in the world but he still worried about whether he was suited to the particular role he was given.’
    • ‘They worried that their concern had no effect on me at all.’
    • ‘I don't really worry about the future too much.’
    • ‘They worried about her health and called in a doctor who confirmed her blood pressure had gone down.’
    • ‘Scanlon, whose husband left her to bring up children aged three and one, said most parents worried about whether they could cope.’
    • ‘Antiwar activists shouldn't worry that their concerns will be given short shrift.’
    • ‘But looking at the food which seemed somewhat unsanitary, we worried about whether it would cause other problems later.’
    • ‘I sometimes worry that the concern over self-identity obscures a far bigger problem.’
    • ‘A child with generalized anxiety worries a lot about everyday events.’
    • ‘He can then try making an exact likeness without having to worry about being too concerned about how good looking it is.’
    • ‘Doing so raises separation of powers concerns that continue to worry many.’
    • ‘It made you do silly things and it gave you an awful headache, but we never worried about the risks, let alone the long-term health consequences.’
    alarming, concerning, worrisome, daunting, perturbing, trying, taxing, vexatious, niggling, bothersome, troublesome, unsettling, harassing, harrying, harrowing, nerve-racking
    fret, be worried, be concerned, be anxious, agonize, brood, dwell on, panic, get in a panic, lose sleep, get worked up, get in a fluster, get overwrought, be on tenterhooks
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1with object Cause annoyance to.
      ‘the noise never really stops, but it doesn't worry me’
      • ‘The additional burdens of bureaucracy do not just worry British businesses.’
      trouble, bother, cause anxiety, make anxious, disturb, distress, upset, concern, disquiet, discompose, fret, agitate, unsettle, perturb, frighten, alarm, scare, fluster, flurry, stress, strain, tax, harass, torment, plague, bedevil, besiege, irk, vex
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2with object Cause to feel anxiety or concern.
      ‘there was no need to worry her’
      ‘I've been worrying myself sick over my mother’
      • ‘An excited Mrs. Morel is thrilled to have her son alone to herself, but she is anxious and worried about his health.’
      • ‘If I were concerned or worried I'd return home and see my ‘real’ general practitioner as a temporary resident.’
      • ‘Police were worried about his potential ‘grooming’ activities.’
      • ‘Not a few lawmakers are worried about the potential negative fallout of damaging revelations prior to April general elections.’
      • ‘At first he was worried and concerned for her well being, but now he was disgusted with her.’
      • ‘Unions meanwhile are worried about potential job losses.’
      • ‘He said he's not worried about the potential loss of members, saying council is strong enough to make decisions as a small group.’
      • ‘He said: ‘Workers will be angry, worried and extremely concerned about their future.’’
      • ‘We are worried about the potential health risk this represents.’
      • ‘They are worried about the potential health effects of microwave emissions, particularly on children.’
      • ‘Once again lack of vision from the people concerned is worrying.’
      • ‘I am extremely worried about potential health risks such as diabetes and cardiac disease due to her obesity.’
      • ‘He was also worried about the health risks of rotting, derelict whare, which became breeding grounds for rats and vermin.’
      • ‘The Matron was worried, and her anxiety had spread through the House like a disease.’
      • ‘We were really worried and concerned that they would go out of business.’
      • ‘But it's a concern nowhere near as worrying as congestion on the roads, overcrowding in schools and fast vanishing farmland.’
      • ‘I am sure many residents will be deeply concerned and worried when they realise the full implications of the plans the council is poised to implement.’
      • ‘This is when I know I'm really afraid of something, or worried, or having anxiety.’
      • ‘But she said she was not worried about health risks from her fast and will only drink water.’
      • ‘Planning would have to take its course but he would be extremely worried about potential health dangers.’
  • 2with object (of a dog or other carnivorous animal) tear at, gnaw on, or drag around with the teeth.

    ‘I found my dog contentedly worrying a bone’
    • ‘Something to focus her mind on, that it would not escape her grip and return to worrying at her grief as a dog worries a bone.’
    • ‘Some people still refer to a ‘dog worrying a rabbit’, as in shaking it to death by the throat.’
    • ‘They want to study it and dissect it, picking away at its component parts like a cat worrying a mouse.’
    • ‘Blair and Howard are like two dogs worrying the same bone called ‘choice’.’
    chew, bite, nibble, munch, crunch, champ, chomp, masticate
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 (of a dog) chase and attack (livestock, especially sheep).
      • ‘He pointed out: 'Owners should be aware that farmers are legally entitled to shoot dogs which may be worrying their sheep.'’
      • ‘Farmers do not all agree with the hunt, and those who don't shoot the foxes that worry their animals, and this is a far more effective method of control.’
      • ‘It now appears that this dog is worrying cattle, sometimes with other dogs.’
      • ‘Some claimed that they attacked young calves and worried the bigger animals.’
      • ‘They would surely not be associated with the minority of hikers who leave gates open, stray from the footpaths or let their unattended dogs worry sheep but these people do exist.’
      • ‘The law states that if dogs worry sheep in any way then farmers are within their rights to shoot them.’
      • ‘Ultimately, if a dog is off its lead and worrying the deer then the park authorities are entitled to shoot it.’
      • ‘Even family pets can terrify and worry sheep and lambs.’
      • ‘It is natural for a wolf to worry a lamb, but when a lamb worries another lamb then it is a monstrous business.’
      • ‘It will certainly offer some protection in terms of sheep being worried by dogs that escape from hunters.’
      • ‘Farmers have been particularly worried about walkers in newly opened areas letting their dogs off leads to worry sheep and cause other nuisance.’
      • ‘Under the Animals Act 1971, a farmer can shoot any dog that is worrying livestock, without liability.’
      • ‘A farmer is allowed to shoot a dog if it is worrying his sheep.’
      attack, savage, maul, mutilate, mangle, go for, tear at, tear to pieces, claw, bite, gnaw at, lacerate, shake, pull at
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2worry atno object Pull at or fiddle with repeatedly.
      ‘he began to worry at the knot in the cord’
      • ‘He shifted slightly in the black vinyl pants as he worried at the hem of his dark blue long sleeved silk shirt with black under tones.’
      • ‘Its long-fingered little hands worried at the string.’

nounPlural worries

  • 1A state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems.

    ‘her son had been a constant source of worry to her’
    • ‘They are in constant worry, for themselves as well as for their children.’
    • ‘The angel asked, concern and worry ebbing from his voice.’
    • ‘She felt concern and worry, and anything beyond that wouldn't come.’
    • ‘Her father then had one less worry to trouble his mind over.’
    • ‘Poor Melindisar must be quite anxious with worry by now.’
    • ‘It was a journey fraught with worry and panic, as I managed to convince myself that I had left the gas on at home!’
    • ‘If young people have any worries or concerns they can find someone to listen to them and to share their concerns with.’
    • ‘He was too anxious and full of worry about the upcoming war.’
    • ‘The result will be worry and potential poverty for millions, and for some losing their homes when they cannot keep up payments after retiring.’
    • ‘I don't miss the anxiety, stress, worry, pain that she has put me through over the last month or so.’
    • ‘The eyes of the man standing beside the bed were welling with the vaguest mix of pity, anxiety, worry, sympathy, and pain.’
    • ‘He held her hands tighter and drew her to him, concern and worry in his eyes.’
    • ‘Sunday was the day I had fun and laughed without any sort of trouble or lingering worry.’
    • ‘I saw concern, confusion, worry, pain, disappointment and curiosity, and I tried to hide from them.’
    • ‘More worrying, however, is the effect low morale and constant worry could have on managers' performance, he says.’
    • ‘Concern, worry, guilt - a mixture of emotions swam in his expression, pain in his wide eyes.’
    • ‘Finally I had to decide between my constant worry and frustration and extending my customers' credit.’
    • ‘As she started to uncover her basket, concern and worry gripped me.’
    • ‘Most of them had long since fallen asleep but he felt this deep feeling of worry troubling him.’
    • ‘With a deflated share price a constant source of worry, the possibility of Atlantic itself being bought out remains an issue.’
    anxiety, disturbance, perturbation, trouble, bother, distress, concern, care, upset, uneasiness, unease, disquiet, disquietude, disconcertment, fretfulness, restlessness, nervousness, nerves, agitation, edginess, tension, tenseness, stress, strain
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A source of anxiety.
      ‘the idea is to secure peace of mind for people whose greatest worry is fear of attack’
      • ‘If, on top of studying and living, you work 20 or so hours a week and still encounter continuous financial worries, your grades are bound to suffer.’
      • ‘Don't let financial worries stress you out and burn your credit card before it burns you.’
      • ‘They now face Christmas with financial worries hanging over them.’
      • ‘She struggled to cope with huge financial worries, and ongoing problems concerning the sale of timber from the estate.’
      • ‘We came from old families without financial worries.’
      • ‘The constant worry of a repeat of autumn 2000 is the lasting legacy of the floods.’
      • ‘He has the additional worry of a troublesome pupil.’
      • ‘Bank runs are one of the biggest worries of China's financial authorities, given that bad loan ratios are believed to be as high as 75 percent at some local banks.’
      • ‘Financial worries, a stressful job, redundancy or fear of unemployment, even moving house, can trigger depression in vulnerable people.’
      • ‘In contrast to his early years, his later life was marked by financial worries, frustration and disappointment.’
      • ‘Chronic stress, such as financial worries, is less well understood than are intermittent bouts of acute stress.’
      • ‘One potential worry for Cablevision is the growth of direct-broadcast satellite services in the New York area.’
      • ‘His actual worry will lie in maintaining harmony among such a gathering of outstanding footballers who will all understandably feel that they should start matches.’
      • ‘The OPW's major worry was about any potential legal liability to the government.’
      • ‘For Peter de Savary, though, it is the potential economic damage which is the main worry.’
      • ‘While some were losing their nerve amid mounting financial worries, the bullish chief executive insisted that the opportunity had to be seized.’
      • ‘She bore it stoically and quietly, cut expenses to ease his financial worries, and made sure no one outside the family found out.’
      • ‘For some, family violence, triggered by the stresses of unemployment and financial worries, emerged as a serious problem.’
      • ‘This time however, there's a much more positive spin on things - I'm getting on top of the grander scheme of financial worries, and coping by myself.’
      • ‘We look forward to seeing what he says in the interview, and at least a bidding war will help relieve some of his well-documented financial worries.’
      problem, cause for concern
      View synonyms


  • not to worry

    • informal Used to reassure someone by telling them that a situation is not serious.

      ‘not to worry—no harm done’
      • ‘This dinosaur committee is being erased this month, so not to worry.’
      • ‘There were no more planes that night and all the next day's were full but, not to worry, our bags at least would be on their way west.’
      • ‘This child may be only 1 year old, but not to worry, there are electric guitars for all ages.’
      • ‘If you happen to be male, and in a relationship, and you also happen to forget what day it is - not to worry.’
      • ‘Well, we discovered something really weird about them; actually, we heard it on the radio but not to worry.’
      • ‘If today's weather doesn't suit then, not to worry, the chances are it'll be different tomorrow.’
      • ‘It just looks like a little pink pimple, lost in my arm freckles, so not to worry.’
      • ‘But not to worry - it will soon be Drift Back Day and suddenly life is beginning to look normal.’
      • ‘Ah well, not to worry - it's not long until Easter and we'll sell then, see if we don't.’
      • ‘On the other, his film is only a metaphor for an imaginary America so not to worry.’


Old English wyrgan ‘strangle’, of West Germanic origin. In Middle English the original sense of the verb gave rise to the meaning ‘seize by the throat and tear’, later figuratively ‘harass’, whence ‘cause anxiety to’ (early 19th century, the date also of the noun).