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anx•i•e•ty(æŋˈzaɪ ɪ ti)
n., pl. -ties.
- Anxiety flowed through the core of his bones like lava —Calder Willingham
- (It is in those marriages and love affairs which are neither good or bad … that) anxiety flows like a muddy river —Norman Mailer
- Anxiety … is somewhat like a blow on the head —Delmore Schwartz
- Anxiety moved like a current through his belly —Bernard Malamud
- Anxiety receives them like a grand hotel —W. H. Auden
- Anxious as a law associate during his sixth year with a major law firm —Elyse Sommer
- Anxious as an aspiring Miss Universe contestant sequestered in a soundproof booth and brought out moments later to tell what she loves most about America —Susan Barron, New York Times/Hers
- Anxious as a mid-level manager in a corporate takeover —Mike Sommer
- Anxious as an investor watching his stock go down —Anon
- Anxious as a taxpayer with an audit notice from the IRA —Anon
- As worried as she would have been over a lover she had cared for passionately —Sumner Locke Elliott
- A case of the dreads so thick they seemed to whistle out the heating ducts and swarm the room like a dark mistral —Richard Ford
- Desperation rising from him like a musk —Paule Marshall
- A feeling of foreboding … like a wind stirring the tapestry, an ominous chill —Evelyn Waugh
- A feeling of vague anxiety … snuffling about me like cold-nosed rodents, like reading of a favorite baseball player whose star has descended to the point where he parks cars at a restaurant or sits in a room above a delicatessen in Indianapolis, drinking vodka and waiting for his pension —W. P. Kinsella
- Felt as if a serpent had begun to coil round his limbs —George Eliot
- Felt as if her nerves were being stretched more tightly, like strings on violin pegs —Leo Tolstoy
- Felt chilled as by the breath of death’s head —Victor Hugo
- Felt like a switchboard with all my nerves on Emergency Alert —Dorothy B. Francis
- Frantic as a mouse in a trap —Anon
- Had a chill and heavy feeling in his stomach like a lump of lead —Vicki Baum
- Her mild, constant worries had engraved no lines in her bisque china face but had gradually cracked it like a very old plate —Lael Tucker Wertenbaker
- His heart seemed to slide like the hook on a released pulley —Frank Swinnerton
- I’m’bout as worried as a pregnant fox in a forest fire —Peter Benchley
- Over it [a face that had looked hopeful] now lay like a foreign substance a film of anxiety —Thomas Hardy
- Second-hand cares, like second-hand clothes, come easily off and on —Charles Dickens
- Stress is like an iceberg. We can see one-eighth of it above, but what about what’s below —Patrice O’Connor
- Suspended in his own anxiety as if in a cloudy solution of some acid —Lawrence Durrell
- There is the same pain and panic (when your computer locks up) as when you have an attack of appendicitis —Brendan Gill quoted New York Times, August 2, 1986 in article by William E. Geist about a man (computer tutor Bruce Stark,) who helps people with their computer problems.
This is typical of similes that are borrowed and modified to fit a personal sphere of interest.
- Unease … it slipped out without his being able to control it, like sweat from his pores —Clive Barker
- Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere —Anon
(See also FEAR.)
butterflies A queasy feeling in the stomach caused by anxiety, nervousness, fear, or excitement; the jitters, the willies, the heebie-jeebies; usually in the phrase to have butterflies in one’s stomach. The term, in use since 1908, provides an apt description of the fluttering sensation felt in the pit of the stomach during times of extreme anxiety or nervous tension.
cliff-hanger Any event or situation in which the outcome is suspensefully uncertain up until the very last moment. The term was originally applied to a serial film in which each episode ended with the hero or heroine left in a perilous plight, such as hanging from a cliff, so that the viewers anxiously awaited the next installment. The extended figurative sense of the term, and the only one commonly heard today, has been in use since at least 1948.
fussy as a hen with one chick Overprotective, overanxious, overparticular and fussy. A hen with one chick, as any mother with only one child, tends to be more possessive and protective than a parent with many offspring. This tendency usually manifests itself in finicky, fretful behavior.
get the wind up To be nervous; to be distressed or anxious. This British expression is similar to the American slang jumpy ‘tense, edgy.’ An analogous British colloquialism, put the wind up, carries a somewhat stronger sense of dread or fright.
I tell you you’ve absolutely put the wind up Uncle Bob and Peter! They’re scared to death of your finding them up. (C. Alington, Strained Relations, 1922)
high-strung Nervous, tense, edgy; thin-skinned, sensitive, spirited. This expression, dating from the late 14th century, literally means ‘strung to a high tension or pitch.’ The allusion is probably to stringed musical instruments: the tighter the string, the higher the pitch. Taut strings are also more brittle and thus more likely to break.
Writers often tend to be high-strung creatures. (M. Lowry, Letters, 1946)
keyed up Excited, high-strung; nervous, tense; intensified, stimulated; psyched up (for), full of nervous energy and anticipation. The verb key refers literally to tuning a musical instrument —that is, raising or lowering the pitch. Since the 17th century this term has been applied figuratively to a person’s thoughts and feelings that affect the overall color or tone of his mood. Thus “key up” is to heighten, intensify, or stimulate feelings.
Although he was emotionally keyed up, Sherman yawned. (Carson McCullers, Clock Without Hands, 1961)
like a cat in a strange garret Uneasy, nervous; fearful, afraid. This expression is an allusion to the behavior of a cat in strange surroundings. The March 16, 1824 edition of the Woodstock [Vermont] Observer contains the phrase:
“What was King Caucus like?” said an old gentleman. “Why, like a cat in a strange garret, frightened at every step it took.”
like a cat on a hot tin roof Very uncomfortable, uneasy, nervous. This self-evident expression is a more current variant of like a cat on hot bricks. The latter dates from 1862 and has the additional meanings ‘swiftly, nimbly.’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was the title of a 1955 play by Tennessee Williams.
on pins and needles Apprehensive, anxious; in a state of nervous or uneasy anticipation; on tenterhooks. Pins and needles refers to the tingly, prickly sensation felt in the arms and legs when they are recovering from having been numbed or “asleep.” Although a person who is “on pins and needles” might not be experiencing the attendant physical sensations, the expression implies that he is.
He was plainly on pins and needles, did not know whether to take or to refuse a cigar. (Pall Mall Magazine, August, 1897)
on tenterhooks Taut with anxiety; in a state of painful suspense of expectation; tense, uneasy, on edge. Tenterhooks are literally the hooks of a tenter, i.e., the frame on which cloth is stretched to shape it. The word was used figuratively as early as the late 17th century; The Winthrop Papers records a 1692 usage of “the tenterhooks of expectation” by G. Saltonstall. In Roderick Random (1748) Tobias Smollett writes:
I left him upon the tenter-hooks of impatient uncertainty.
Eventually such explanatory phrases became elliptically understood, leaving us with the now common on tenterhooks.
on the anxious seat In a state of apprehension or suspense; in a state of difficulty or doubt. The figurative expression derives from the literal anxious seat or bench, or mourners’ bench, of American revivalist camp meetings, on which penitents desirous of forgiveness and seeking conversion were wont to sit while anxiously awaiting the call or sign of salvation. The term was used in its still current figurative sense early in this century:
The entire diplomatic corps at Havana is … on the “anxious bench.” (New York Evening Post, November 1, 1906)
on the rack Under great pressure or strain; in painful suspense or acute psychological torment; on tenterhooks; tense, anxious, nervous. The rack, a former instrument of torture, consisted of a frame with rollers at either end to which the victim’s ankles and wrists were attached in order to stretch his joints. The expression on the rack was used figuratively for psychological suffering as early as the 16th century.
… Let me choose, For as I am, I live upon the rack. (Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice III, ii)
the screaming meemies Excessive fretfulness or uneasiness; the jitters, the heebie-jeebies; fear-induced delirium. In World War II, American soldiers originated this phrase as a nickname for the German rocket shells. The terrifying noise and devastating effect of these weapons caused anyone within earshot to be petrified with fear. While the expression is still used today for dread and horror, it is occasionally applied jocularly to the extremes of other emotional states, such as frightful boredom.
Madison [Wisconsin] is a town that would give the ordinary thrill seeker the screaming meemies in one quiet weekend. (G. S. Penny, in Saturday Evening Post, January 1945)
sit tight See PATIENCE
sit upon hot cockles See IMPATIENCE.
sweat blood To worry or agonize; to be apprehensive or anxious; to be heavy-hearted; to be under a great strain. This expression and its variant, a bloody sweat, allude to Christ’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane:
And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down upon the ground. (Luke 22:44)
These expressions have been used figuratively in various contexts, most of which refer to suffering occasioned by awaiting a likely, if not inevitable, fate.
War … which yet, to sack us, toils in bloody sweat to enlarge the bounds of conquering Thessalie. (Thomas Kyd, Cornelia, 1594)
|Noun||1.||anxiety - (psychiatry) a relatively permanent state of worry and nervousness occurring in a variety of mental disorders, usually accompanied by compulsive behavior or attacks of panic|
psychiatry, psychological medicine, psychopathology - the branch of medicine dealing with the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders
mental condition, mental state, psychological condition, psychological state - (psychology) a mental condition in which the qualities of a state are relatively constant even though the state itself may be dynamic; "a manic state"
castration anxiety - (psychoanalysis) anxiety resulting from real or imagined threats to your sexual functions; originally applied only to men but can in principle apply to women
overanxiety - excessive anxiety
|2.||anxiety - a vague unpleasant emotion that is experienced in anticipation of some (usually ill-defined) misfortune|
emotion - any strong feeling
worry, trouble - a strong feeling of anxiety; "his worry over the prospect of being fired"; "it is not work but worry that kills"; "he wanted to die and end his troubles"
concern, fear, care - an anxious feeling; "care had aged him"; "they hushed it up out of fear of public reaction"
insecurity - the anxiety you experience when you feel vulnerable and insecure
disquietude, edginess, inquietude, uneasiness - feelings of anxiety that make you tense and irritable
sinking feeling, sinking - a feeling caused by uneasiness or apprehension; "with a sinking heart"; "a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach"
jitteriness, jumpiness, nervousness, restiveness - the anxious feeling you have when you have the jitters
angst - an acute but unspecific feeling of anxiety; usually reserved for philosophical anxiety about the world or about personal freedom
security, confidence, relief, assurance, serenity, contentment, calmness
he expressed his anxieties about the future → expresó su preocupación or inquietud por el futuro
we've had a lot of anxiety over the children's health → hemos estado muy preocupados por la salud de los niños
it is a great anxiety to me → me preocupa mucho
anxiety to do sth → ansia or afán de hacer algo
in his anxiety to leave, he forgot his case → estaba tan ansioso por irse que olvidó su maleta
I have no anxieties about them → non sono in ansia per loro
it is a great anxiety to me → è una grossa preoccupazione per me