[angk-shuhs, ang-]
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  1. full of mental distress or uneasiness because of fear of danger or misfortune; greatly worried; solicitous: Her parents were anxious about her poor health.
  2. earnestly desirous; eager (usually followed by an infinitive or for): anxious to please; anxious for our happiness.
  3. attended with or showing solicitude or uneasiness: anxious forebodings.

Origin of anxious

1615–25; < Latin anxius worried, distressed, derivative of angere to strangle, pain, distress; cf. anguish, -ous
Related formsanx·ious·ly, adverbanx·ious·ness, nounqua·si-anx·ious, adjectivequa·si-anx·ious·ly, adverbun·anx·ious, adjectiveun·anx·ious·ly, adverbun·anx·ious·ness, noun

Synonyms for anxious

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Antonyms for anxious

Usage note

The earliest sense of anxious (in the 17th century) was “troubled” or “worried”: We are still anxious for the safety of our dear sons in battle. Its meaning “earnestly desirous, eager” arose in the mid-18th century: We are anxious to see our new grandson. Some insist that anxious must always convey a sense of distress or worry and object to its use in the sense of “eager,” but such use is fully standard. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for anxious


  1. worried and tense because of possible misfortune, danger, etc; uneasy
  2. fraught with or causing anxiety; worrying; distressingan anxious time
  3. intensely desirous; eageranxious for promotion
Derived Formsanxiously, adverbanxiousness, noun

Word Origin for anxious

C17: from Latin anxius; related to Latin angere to torment; see anger, anguish
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 anxious

1620s, from Latin anxius "solicitous, uneasy, troubled in mind" (also "causing anxiety, troublesome"), from angere, anguere "choke, squeeze," figuratively "torment, cause distress" (see anger (v.)). The same image is in Serbo-Croatian tjeskoba "anxiety," literally "tightness, narrowness." Related: Anxiously; anxiousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper