Anxious or Eager?

woman covering her right eye using her right hand during daytime

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anxious: characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind or brooding fear about some contingency

“I am so anxious to see you!”

How many times have you heard or said this? Most of the time, anxious was probably not the word to use.

Say your best friend is about to arrive for an out-of-town visit. You are more likely to be eager or excited for her visit than anxious. Anxious has a negative connotation. Anxious means you are in a fit of hand-wringing nervousness, considering all that could go wrong. If you are simply happy for your friend to come and are expecting the trip to go smoothly, then you are not anxious; you are just excited and eager.

Here are examples of anxious, excited, and eager used the correct way:

I am excited to get my package in the mail.
I am eager for my trip to the Bahamas.
I am anxious that this airplane will crash.

Note that the first two sentences have positive connotations, and the second has a negative connotation.

Can these words be interchangeable?
There has been a trend of using anxious, eager, and excited interchangeably. However, I still think there should be a distinction. Remember that anxiety is a medical condition, which often requires medication and treatment. It can be a very serious and life-altering condition for those who have it. Using the word so casually (and incorrectly) downplays, in my opinion, its severity. People who don’t have anxiety already tend to not understand how difficult living with a form of anxiety can be. Misusing it in our speech adds to this confusion.

In each sentence is the word anxious. Determine in each sentence if the word is used correctly.

1. Edwin is anxious that his dinner plans will fall through.
2. Edwin is anxious to eat his ice cream.
3. Edwin is anxious for the first day of school, thinking of all that could go wrong.
4. Edwin is anxious to open his birthday present.

1. correct 2. incorrect 3. correct 4. incorrect

Erin Servais is the founder of Dot and Dash, LLC, an author-services company focusing on women writers and offering a range of editing, coaching, and social media packages.

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Misbelief and disbelief

Kevin was in disbelief. How could his parents leave without him?

Kevin was in disbelief. How could his parents leave without him?

disbelief: mental rejection of something as untrue
misbelief: erroneous or false belief

To keep these two words straight, consider this: Misbelief is when something is untrue. Disbelief is when you think something is untrue (regardless of whether it is). Disbelief tends to deal with thoughts and opinions. Misbelief deals with facts.

Ralph was in complete disbelief. He didn’t think Suzie could have stolen the lollipop.
It is a misbelief that George has three toes. He only has two.

It is a misbelief that the religion’s followers have to surgically attach octopus tentacles to their necks.
The leader stood in disbelief when he heard the rumor. “People believe that?” he asked.

Fill in the blanks with either disbelief or misbelief. The answers are at the bottom.

1. No one thought Percy would finally propose. They were in _______ when Frank showed the ring on his finger.
2. You can believe a _______, but it will still be untrue.
3. When the kids explained that a dragon broke the antique lamp, their parents met the tale with _______.
4. It is a common _______ that Paul only eats sauerkraut after midnight. He usually eats it at seven p.m.



1. disbelief 2. misbelief 3. disbelief 4. misbelief

Meow! Miau! Nyan!

I happen to be obsessed with a little Japanese kitty who has a Pop Tart for a body and leaves a rainbow trail every time he moves. His name is Nyan, and he stars in a simple but deceivingly addictive video game of the same name. At first I thought the kitty’s name was Nyan just because . . . well, it was. But it turns out that nyan is the sound cats make in Japan.

In English, we’re used to our moos and oinks and woofs and meows, but animals don’t make the same sounds in other countries. Or, rather, the people speaking the languages don’t interpret the sounds the same way.

Take our Nyan cat, for example. In Japan, he says nyan. In the United States, he says meow. In Germany, it’s miau; and, in France, it’s miaou.

Here are other examples of what animals say across the globe:

English: tweet
French: cui cui
Greek: tsiou tsiou
Portuguese: pio
Swedish: pip-pip

English: moo
Finnish: ammuu
French: meuh
Japanese: mau mau
Spanish: meee

English: woof
French: ouah
German: wau
Greek: gav
Japanese: wan

English: cock-a-doodle-do
French: cocorico
Hebrew: coo-koo-ri-koo
Japanese: ko-ke-kok-ko-o
Portuguese: cucurucu

English: ribbit
Dutch: kwak kwak
Finnish: kvaak
Italian: cra cra
Japanese: kero kero

English: oink oink
French: groin groin
German: grunz
Japanese: boo boo
Russian: hrgu-hrgu

Want to learn more?
Here’s the page where I found all of these lovely words. Want to know the noise a donkey, moose, or crocodile makes? Check it out.

Here’s a link to a great ESL page where you can hear sound clips of native speakers saying the animal sounds.

trooper vs. trouper

What a trooper!

Does this phrase look correct to you? It’s okay if it does because using trooper instead of the correct word is a very common mix-up.

In the phrase above, you should use trouper instead of trooper.

A trouper is a person who is a member of a troupe (a group of performers, such as actors). A trooper is a soldier (a member of a group of troops), a police officer (such as a state trooper), or a person in a similar category of jobs.

We use trouper in the phrase above and similar phrases (such as he is such a trouper) when we refer to a person who has overcome obstacles. The popular phrase the show must go on comes from the idea that even if bad things happen (a piece of the set breaks or an actor has a sore throat), the troupe must continue with the show—lest they be pelted with tomatoes coming from angry audience members.

When you refer to someone as a trouper, you are giving him or her a compliment and saying in short that even though the s/he has had bad things happen, s/he has continued on and worked to overcome the obstacles. The show must go on.

A student who has a bad cold and still shows up to take the big test is a trouper.

A runner who stubs his toe in the middle of a marathon and keeps running is a trouper.

A dancer who falls in the middle of her big solo and continues on with the routine is a trouper.

A person who is fighting a serious illness is a trouper.

Blame it on the French
One reason for the trooper and trouper confusion is because both words come from the same root word, troupe. The Middle French language gave us the word troupe, which then meant a band of people. In the 1540s, English got troop (and thus trooper) from this word, adapting it to mean a body of soldiers. Then, in the 1820s, we began using troupe in English to mean a group of performers, a member of which is a trouper.

*I got this etymology information from a website I absolutely love, called Online Etymology Dictionary. If you ever are interested in learning the history of a word, I encourage you to visit this site for a thorough and easy-to-understand explanation.

Erin Servais will be a tireless trouper to help you reach your book publishing goals. Learn how to hire her at:

nadir vs. zenith

nadir: 1. the point of the celestial sphere that is directly opposite the zenith and vertically downward from the observer; 2. the lowest point

zenith: 1. the point of the celestial sphere that is directly opposite the nadir and vertically above the observer; 2. the highest point reached in the heavens by a celestial body; 3. culminating point

For the purpose of our discussion today, we will focus on definition 2 for nadir and definition 3 for zenith. I imagine if you are an astronomical enthusiast, you are familiar with the celestial definitions of these words, so we are going to talk about their usage in nonscientific speech.

To put it simply, nadir means the very bottom/worst of something, and zenith means the very top/best of something. In everyday conversation, these words usually relate to an experience. For instance, if you are discussing your career, the zenith may be when you entered the role of company vice president (best point). The nadir may be when you were fired after thirty years of work (worst point).

Here are more examples:

The nadir of Earl’s figure skating was when he broke his pelvis during a failed triple axel.
The zenith of Earl’s figure skating was when he qualified for the Olympics.

The nadir of Betty’s cupcake business was when she accidentally poisoned thirty customers.
The zenith of Betty’s cupcake business was when she won the “best dessert in the city” award.

Test your understanding with this quiz. Fill in either nadir or zenith in the blanks below. The answers are at the bottom.

1. Frank felt he reached his _______ when the famous artist wanted to paint his portrait.
2. Tracy was sure her life hit its _______ when the rabid dog ate off her foot.
3. The _______ of Harriet’s competitive eating career was when she broke the record for most hot dogs consumed in twenty minutes.
4. The _______ of Cindy’s movie-going pastime was when she paid nine dollars to see the film Murderous Sea Creatures from the Deep IV, which was rated only one star.

Answers: 1. zenith 2. nadir 3. zenith 4. nadir