noun, plural anx·i·e·ties.

distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune: He felt anxiety about the possible loss of his job.
earnest but tense desire; eagerness: He had a keen anxiety to succeed in his work.
Psychiatry. a state of apprehension and psychic tension occurring in some forms of mental disorder.

Origin of anxiety

1515–25; < Latin anxietās, equivalent to anxi(us) anxious + -etās, variant of -itās before a vowel

Synonyms for anxiety

Synonym study

1. See apprehension.

Antonyms for anxiety Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for anxiety

Contemporary Examples of anxiety

Historical Examples of anxiety

  • Did Phidias express no anxiety concerning your unprotected situation?


    Lydia Maria Child

  • The ring of anxiety in Grace's voice had not been lost upon her.

  • He had no anxiety concerning the philanthropic craze thereafter.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • Then, as a new thought came to the magnate, he spoke with a trace of anxiety.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • There was anxiety in his face, as he stood staring vaguely out of the window.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

British Dictionary definitions for anxiety


noun plural -ties

a state of uneasiness or tension caused by apprehension of possible future misfortune, danger, etc; worry
intense desire; eagerness
psychol a state of intense apprehension or worry often accompanied by physical symptoms such as shaking, intense feelings in the gut, etc, common in mental illness or after a very distressing experienceSee also angst

Word Origin for anxiety

C16: from Latin anxietas; see anxious
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for anxiety

1520s, from Latin anxietatem (nominative anxietas) "anguish, anxiety, solicitude," noun of quality from anxius (see anxious). Psychiatric use dates to 1904. Age of Anxiety is from Auden's poem (1947). For "anxiety, distress," Old English had angsumnes, Middle English anxumnesse.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

anxiety in Medicine




A state of uneasiness and apprehension, as about future uncertainties.
A cause of anxiety.
A state of intense apprehension, uncertainty, and fear resulting from the anticipation of a threatening event or situation, often to a degree that normal physical and psychological functioning is disrupted.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

anxiety in Science



A state of apprehension and fear resulting from the anticipation of a threatening event or situation.♦ In psychiatry, a patient has an anxiety disorder ♦ if normal psychological functioning is disrupted or if anxiety persists without an identifiable cause.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

anxiety in Culture


Emotional distress, especially that brought on by fear of failure. (See also angst.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.