Carol in Florida wrote recently about “anxious” and “eager.” Here’s what she said: “When someone says they are so anxious to hear the wonderful news, all I can picture is the person shaking, waiting in fear, biting their nails and pacing the floor to hear the news. That sounds like a pretty negative word to me and I just can’t see why they wouldn’t want to use eager — a much more positive word to describe what they mean.”
The use of “anxious” to express positive anticipation is widespread. When I do a Google search for the term “I’m anxious to,” I see that most of the hits on the first few pages are people using the word to express that they’re happily looking forward to something.
The first hit is a quotation from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who said that she was leaving that job in large part because she was “anxious to join” her family salmon fishing in Alaska. The next four hits are “I’m anxious to work on ‘Batman,’” “Six spring chores I’m anxious to do,” “Games in 2010 I’m anxious to buy” and “Phillies spring training: three players I’m anxious to see.”