Word Wise: Anxious

An infrequent series of posts about curious, misused, onerous, or strange English language words.

There are some English words we ingrain in our thinking for certain situations and believe they’re the right ones. An example is saying “anxious” when that’s not exactly the intended meaning:

I’m anxious about meeting you!

I’m anxious about finally seeing a new Star Wars movie!

Anxious is one of those commonly misused words lazily dropped into our conversations. The meme I’ve used to help me keep things straight is to remember anxious = uneasy (visually that “anxi” combo looks uncomfortable, so works for me).

Substituting “uneasy” in the two examples above fixes the confusion… and it’s obviously not the best word to use!

“Eager” or “enthusiastic” is, in this usage, what we mean to convey. In the past (as many others) I’ve said “anxious,” thinking it conveys excitement. I’ll try to remember Inigo Montoya’s classic phrase and stay word wise.

2 Responses

  1. I just think of “anxiety,” which has the same root. That certainly doesn’t have the desired connotation for eager or enthusiastic! Shall I send you my lengthy list of most-often-heard misused words? 😉 Naaahh… I know you have a long list yourself.

  2. Oh please, send on your list! Mine’s not all that long, but I expect in the weeks and months ahead feeding this newborn I’ll have others come back to memory.

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