Anxious or eager, which are you?

flickr  ataelw

flickr ataelw

For many, many years, I have misused the word “anxious.” More times than I want to admit now, I could be heard to say things like, “I am anxious to go on vacation” or “I am anxiously awaiting some good news.” WRONG. I should have said I was eager for a vacation or the good news, assuming both were of a positive nature.

Anxious means worried, troubled, disturbed or full of mental distress.

Eager, on the other hand, means impatiently expecting or longing or having a keen interest in something.

 Anxious is derived from a word that means pain or stress while eager comes from a work meaning sharp.

See how many times you hear the word misused in the next few days.

I eagerly, but not anxiously, await your comments.

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7 responses to “Anxious or eager, which are you?

  1. Mother Shaffer

    There are so many other examples of this. What about ensure vs. insure or effect and affect? It makes me so anxious that I’ll make a mistake and eager to learn the right usage once and for all!

  2. Thanks for the comment, Mother. Actually, I do have those on my hit list for posts, but atl least they sound the same.

  3. Woody Woodward

    Speaking of a powerful word that I have been convicted of grossly misusing; how about the thoughts that seems to stand behind, building a false discourse for the word, “awesome”? It’s certainly nothing to get overly uptight about, and I really don’t think our Lord is offended, but I believe parents have failed to teach younger folks what this word really portrays. May I humbly point out that “awesome” is an English translation for the Biblical, Greek and Hebrew term that portrays reverent fear and respect for our Holy, perfect and infinite God. I believe this powerful word should be thought about, reserved, and then used only when reverently speaking of, or referring to our Awesome God!

  4. Pingback: Pages tagged "anxious"

  5. Wow. I corrected my uncle-in-law last week about his use of anxious and he jumped down my throat!

    He pulled the old “you know what I meant, therefore my use of the word was correct” argument. I stewed for a few hours, coming up with all manner of clever retorts after the fact, but the guy’s a lawyer, and very hard to confront, so I had to let it go in the end.

    Seriously, once I learned of the distinction, it has grated me to hear people use anxious in relation to something they’re eagerly looking forward to!

  6. Hi Mike
    Thanks for the note. Don’t mess with lawyers!
    I am glad I made you think even if you are now disturbed every time you hear that term used.
    Keep reading!

  7. Does it bother anyone that the “eager” definition of “anxious” has actually made it into some dictionaries?

    From Merriam Webster: ardently or earnestly wishing

    From Dictionary.com: earnestly desirous; eager (usually fol. by an infinitive or for ): anxious to please; anxious for our happiness.

    An example of how misuse can become the acceptable norm. I don’t care how many dictionaries list it. It still bugs me. “Literally”… Hah!