Anxious vs. Eager

It’s not uncommon for people to write something like this:

“I’m anxious to know how your important new job is going.”

In fact, “anxious” means experiencing worry or unease about a situation that might be negative.  It is possible that the person’s new job might not be working out so well, but chances are the speaker/writer meant “eager,” meaning to show keen interest.

English: An anxious person

English: An anxious person (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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2 Comments

Filed under All things having to do with the English language

2 responses to “Anxious vs. Eager

  1. This is a very good example of the way misuse undermines the language. English is a very rich – we have an astonishing range of words with very similar meanings. This allows us to express exactly what we mean, or perhaps just avoid monotony.

    People think using “anxious” makes them appear concerned. It doesn’t. As you say, it can make them sound as if they are paranoid, but it can also sound very patronising. If you are anxious about my new job, does that mean you think I’m not up to it? A friendly enquiry can be turned into something that saps my confidence.

    Another favourite of mine is “passionate”, particularly on The Apprentice. People are passionate about current topics that interest them vaguely. They say the cannot sell something unless they are passionate about it. The mean they can’t sell anything that embarrasses them.

    They should look that word up. It would surprise most of them!

    Like

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