'Anxious' vs 'Eager': What's the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on July 31, 2023

Do you need to know the difference between 'anxious' vs. 'eager?'

Here is a quick answer:

  • 'Anxious' is an adjective that describes a noun as being unsettled, on edge, or stressed about an event in the future.
  • 'Eager' is also an adjective that describes a noun as impatiently desiring or enthusiastically being interested in something.

The short explanation above gives the proper part of speech and the meaning of each word, but there is much more to learn. So, if you are still wondering how exactly you use these terms, keep reading!

What is the Difference Between 'Anxious' and 'Eager?'

'Anxious' and 'eager' have similar meanings but different spellings, definitions, pronunciations, and uses.

Both terms describe nouns.

  • 'Anxious' implies that the person is experiencing a mixture of anxiety and nervousness that 'eager' does not.
  • 'Eager,' on the other hand, gives the idea that the subject is excited about an upcoming event, meeting, or date.

Nevertheless, you can use these terms as synonyms, for example:

  • I have been 'anxious' all morning, but I am just 'eager' to go on vacation this afternoon.

Definition of 'Anxious': What Does 'Anxious' Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the term 'anxious' is an adjective that describes a noun as:

  • Extremely nervous, uneasy, or worried about a future event or date

It can also mean:

  • Associated with or causing anxiousness or worry
  • Wholeheartedly desiring or wishing for something

Synonyms of 'Anxious'

  • Aflutter
  • Eager
  • Nervous
  • Uneasy
  • Concerned
  • Apprehensive
  • Cautious
  • Unsure
  • Tense
  • Upset
  • Bothered
  • Perturbed
  • Hesitant
  • Antsy
  • Flustered
  • Uptight
  • Jittery
  • Insecure
  • Restless
  • Distressed
  • Worrisome
  • Disheartening
  • Discouraging
  • Voracious
  • Hungry
  • Greedy
  • Motivated
  • Enthusiastic
  • Pumped
  • Willing
  • Ready
  • Geeked
  • Ambitious
  • Ardent
  • Raring
  • Wild
  • Stoked
  • Hyped
  • Energetic

Definition of 'Eager': What Does 'Eager' Mean?

The same source defines 'eager' as an adjective that means:

  • Marked by enthusiastic interest or impatient desire

It can also mean:

  • A keen interest in something
  • Marked by a strong desire for something
  • Wanting badly to have something interesting or enjoyable

Synonyms of 'Eager'

  • Excited
  • Anxious
  • Enthusiastic
  • Keen
  • Ecstatic
  • Voracious
  • Stoked
  • Enthused
  • Thirsty
  • Hungry
  • Motivated
  • Antsy
  • Greedy
  • Willing
  • Ambitious
  • Restless
  • Raring

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Anxious' vs. 'Eager'

Next, take a minute to verify that you know how to pronounce these terms because if you are confident in saying them, you are more likely to use them when communicating in writing and verbally.

So, here is a quick pronunciation reference guide you can use:

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'anxious':


  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'eager':


When and How to Use 'Anxious' vs. 'Eager'

You've learned the definitions, differences, and pronunciations of 'anxious' vs. 'eager.' So, here are some tips to help you determine to use each term.

  • Use 'anxious' when you feel like you are excited but have anxiety about something.

For example, you might say:

I am always anxious when I have a job interview, but I am also excited to learn about new opportunities.  

  • Use 'anxious' to say that you are excitedly waiting for something.

As an example, you could say:

She is anxiously awaiting the arrival of her prom date. 

  • Use 'eager' when you are excited about something.

For example, you could say:

He is eager to see his friends tonight.

  • Use 'eager' to say that someone is ready to work hard.

So, you might say:

She is eager to work on the project because she set a goal to complete the entire building within the next six months. 

  • When deciding between 'anxious' vs. 'eager,' use 'eager' for someone excited but not anxious.

For example, you could say:

He is eager to get to work because he wants to finish at least a few weeks before the projected completion date.

Sample Sentences Using 'Anxious' and 'Eager'

Next, read the sample sentences below to learn how to use these terms in various ways.


  • He was anxious that his date would not like him.
  • Starting a new job and moving to a new state is enough to make anyone anxious.
  • On the day I started my first professional job, I was so anxious that I fainted in the middle of the office.
  • Please give me a moment to meditate. I am very anxious and need to calm down before addressing the crowd.
  • If you are already anxious, how do you think you will feel when you are in front of thousands of people on stage?


  • I am sure you are eager to move to your first apartment, but you must be in a healthy financial position before you move out.
  • I am eager to get to our house because I have some work to finish before our flight tonight at 6 p.m.
  • We are eager to receive your application for the Marketing Director position.
  • They are eager for the opportunity to show their fans the new routine they have been working on.
  • We may never be as good as the other teams in our league, but we are eager to try!


  • She was eager to get to work but also anxious about meeting her new co-workers.
  • Every year, we are eager to go on vacation, but after everything our family went through over the past few months, I am really anxious.
  • I feel like if I allow my anxiousness to meltaway and I embrace my eager excitement that a bearer of bad news will shop up and ruin everything.

Final Review: 'Anxious' vs. 'Eager'

Finally, let's review what you learned about 'anxious' vs. 'eager':

  • 'Anxious' is an adjective that means nervously awaiting something or brooding with fear and anxiety about a contingency.
  • 'Eager' is also an adjective that means marked with enthusiasm or an impatient desire to have something now.

As I mentioned earlier, the most significant difference in these terms is the implication that someone who is 'anxious' has anxiety. However, when someone is 'eager,' that is not always the case.

I hope the explanations and information in this guide helped you to gain a comprehensive understanding of the meanings, pronunciations, and when to use these terms.

If this guide helped you, I encourage you to read a few more confusing word posts to help you expand your vocabulary and learn essential grammar rules.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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