Friday, May 20, 2011

Conscientious Usage: Anxious vs. Eager

For some reason I've been noticing something a lot more recently (don't get me wrong, people have been doing this for decades, but I've started noticing it EVERYWHERE): people say 'anxious' when they mean 'eager.'

Anxiety is generally considered a bad thing, as illustrated by Merriam-Webster:
1 a : painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind usually over an impending or anticipated ill
   b : fearful concern or interest
Eagerness, on the other hand, is a positive anticipation (again, thank you Merriam-Webster):
2 : marked by enthusiastic or impatient desire or interest

And before anyone calls me on it: I'm aware that this is the second entry, but the first was labeled 'archaic' and 'obsolete'. Ergo, I used the current definition.

You know the most horrifying thing? I've even caught myself making this mistake! So, I've been trying hard to correct myself. And even though you probably shouldn't go around correcting people who say this (trust me, they don't like it), you can now rest easy in the knowledge that you are using correct diction (or intentionally using incorrect diction, if you like).

So, do you have any linguistic pet peeves? What are they? Do you point it out to people or let it slide (even though it's driving you insane on the inside)?


  1. Gosh, loads, but for some reason I can't think of any of them now. Sigh.

  2. More of an etiquette thing, but I hate when people say "no problem" in response to a thank you. It's almost like you're invalidating the thank you. Thank you acknowledges effort, no problem says, "don't bother, there was no effort." Annoying.

  3. Funny what we notice, and when.

    Coming from a bilingual commnuity, we pick up a lot of slang derived from both languages. Sometimes mixed together. Why not? You know two languages, use them, right? hehe. Would be better to use them properly, but what do I know? I'm the idiot who told my kids to put their dishes dans le sink. yeah. Brilliant. Je know.

    Now I'll be watching for the anxious users, because I bet those eager buggers are misusing words all around me, and I wasn't the wiser.

  4. I read one book where the word "awesome" was all over the place, in what felt like every chapter, and sometimes used several times per page--literally. The author used it as a descriptive word (awesome power, awesome spectacle, etc.) and it drove me nuts, especially because it was Epic Fantasy and in modern language "awesome" has more to do with slang . . .

  5. Um, no I don't really have any word pet peeves. I figure I know what the person's talking about and if I don't, I'll say something about it in a way that they would know that I really was confused. Does that make sense? Haha. Great post. I didn't realize people mixed these up that often.

  6. Interesting how eagerness can mimic anxiety symptom-wise...fluttery stomach, racing heart, shortness of breath, shaky hands, oy!

  7. Hm, good point! I hate (especially when I find myself doing it) when people say "apparently." It's got to be the most useless adjective in the English language. If you can see it or it happened, then it is apparent! You don't need to point that out with an adjective.

  8. I had a similar thought, lbdiamond. It is a good distinction. Now I am on the lookout!

  9. I'm sure I have several, but I try to remind myself that language is an ever evolving process (it's the linguist in my talking here, btw). The meanings of words change over time, and it happens a lot--e.g., the #1 definition of eager. Of course, that doesn't mean that my skin doesn't prickle when I hear someone using the wrong word (or what I consider to be the wrong word).

    Ah, I know. "Actually" and "Literally". Overuse of those is pretty atrocious.

    East for Green Eyes

    PS--I tagged you in a meme this morning.

  10. I'm guilty! I hate when I catch myself doing it, but I do slip up from time to time.

    One thing that bugs me is "He ran quickly". OK. He's running. So he's already going quickly...? Really any useless adjective that bogs down the sentence.