Word Confusion: Anxious versus Eager

Posted July 21, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Essentially anxious and eager mean the same thing: to look forward to something. The difference is that anxious carries negative connotations while eager is at the other end of the emotional scale with positive connotations.

When one is worried about something, concerned about how a future something will turn out, one is anxious. You know, like how you feel about getting your book done and published. How many readers will buy your book. If you’ll get enough reviews posted. If… That’s anxious.

Excited to do something, looking forward to it with happiness is eagerness, a wholehearted desire for something, and smiling in anticipation instead of pacing the floor!

I know I’d rather be eager about the publication of my book as opposed to anxious about it!

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Anxious Eager
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

“Anxious Face” is Barry Langdon-Lassagne’s own work under the CC-BY-3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

An anxious face is usually an unhappy face.

“Ethan Eager” is Tania Silveyra15’s own work under the CC-BY-SA-3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

A happy face is usually an eager face.

Part of Grammar:
Adjective Adjective
anxious about… a concern, preferably not to do something

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

  • [Of a period of time or situation] Causing or characterized by worry or nervousness

[Usually used with an infinitive] Wanting something very much, typically with a feeling of unease

[Of a person] Wanting to do or have something very much

  • [Of a person’s expression or tone of voice] Characterized by keen expectancy or interest
She was extremely anxious about her exams.

There were some anxious moments.

The company was anxious to avoid any trouble.

My parents were anxious that I get an education.

The man was eager to please.

They were young intellectuals eager for knowledge.

Small eager faces looked up and listened.

He was such an eager beaver.

Adjective: quasi-anxious, quasi-anxiously, unanxious
Adverb: anxiously, unanxiously, unanxiousness
Noun: anxiousness
Adverb: eagerly
Noun: eagerness
History of the Word:
First known use: circa 1616

Early 17th century from the Latin anxius from angere meaning to choke

Middle English from the Old French aigre meaning keen from the Latin acer or acr- meaning sharp, pungent.

You might also think of it as sharp to the senses, pungent, or sour.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

Worried Little Girl” by Ignas Kukenys from Vilnius, Lithuania, (Flickr) under the CC BY 2.0 license and “China” by Steve Evans from Citizen of the World (China) is under the CC BY 2.0 license; both are via Wikimedia Commons.