anx·ious (ăngkshəs, ăngshəs)
1. Uneasy and apprehensive about an uncertain event or matter; worried.
2. Attended with, showing, or causing anxiety: spent an anxious night waiting for the test results.
3. Usage Problem Eagerly or earnestly desirous.
[From Latin ānxius, from angere, to torment; see angh- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: Anxious has a long history of use as a synonym for eager, but some prefer that anxious be used only to describe those who are worried or uneasy, as in the sentence He's anxious about his upcoming surgery. The acceptability of anxious to mean eager has been increasing, however. In our 1999 survey of the Usage Panel, 47 percent approved of the sentence We are anxious to see the new show of British sculpture at the museum, whereas in 2014, this sentence was acceptable to 57 percent of panelists. The acceptability was higher for this usage in a sentence about a situation with a tinge of uneasiness: After a four-hour bus ride, the children were anxious to get outside (acceptable to 69 percent of the Panel in 1999 and 78 percent in 2014). Although resistance to the use of anxious to mean eager is waning, writers should be aware that there are still those who frown upon using the word in situations where no anxiety is present.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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