Hello, wonderful SEers! Mae here with word problems, cats, and a call for opinions. If that sounds like a good combination, I hope you’ll take the time to weigh in with your comments.
Let me trot out the situation:
Have you ever been stuck for the right word? Ever think you have the right word only to have someone tell you it doesn’t fit? Today, I’d like you to weigh in on a specific word. One that’s been problematic for me, and that continues to rear its troublesome head in my writing.
I think we can all agree that different regions of the country, even the world, frequently use different words to express the same idea. A few examples of these include soda vs. pop; asphalt vs. macadam; shore vs. beach, etc. These are colloquialisms. If you’re in the U.S., you open the “trunk” of your car. In the U.K. you open the “boot.” When I use a word or phrase common to my area and an editor flags me on it, I understand the reasoning.
You’ll also find words with different spellings based on region—tire vs. tyre and color vs. colour. Pretty obvious. But what about a word with multiple meanings? Can regional interpretation play a role there as well?
I’m anxious to hear what you think.
Anxious as in eager, not anxious as in afraid.
Meet my problematic word.
I’m trying to be more conscious of how I use “anxious” as my editor has flagged me on it more than once. This is where I’m curious about opinions. How do you interpret the following examples:
Sunlight streamed through the bedroom window, herald of a new day. Dana tossed the blankets aside and swung her feet to the floor, anxious to start the morning.
Connie dug into the bag from the bookstore, anxious to lose herself in the pages of her newest purchase.
Do you read “eager” where “anxious” appears? In my neck of the woods, using anxious in this way is perfectly acceptable, even common. I’m starting to think, however, it’s as odd as calling asphalt macadam. I understand that anxious means fearful or apprehensive, but I also think its use relates to the context of the moment. Is it really so odd to use the word to express eagerness? Am I way off base?
It’s a versatile word, one I would also place to express apprehension:
Violet chewed on her fingernail, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the police officer.
Would you use it both ways or only one way? Can you think of another word that falls into the same arena as anxious, where one interpretation is judged more popular than another? Do you have problematic words in your writing, or words that you tend to be conscious of how you use them? Are you anxious to share? 😊