from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Tartness; sourness; sharpness.
  • noun Keen or vehement desire in the pursuit or for the attainment of something, or a manifestation of such desire; ardent tendency; zeal; fervor: as, to pursue happiness or wealth with eagerness; eagerness of manner or speech.
  • noun Synonyms Earnestness, Avidity, Eagerness, Zeal, Enthusiasm, ardor, vehemence, impetuosity, heartiness, longing, impatience. The first five words may all denote strong and worthy movements of feeling and purpose toward a desired object. In this field eagerness has either a physical or a moral application; with avidity the physical application is primary; earnestness, zeal, and enthusiasm have only the moral sense. Avidity represents a desire for food, primarily physical, figuratively mental: as, to read a new novel with avidity; it rarely goes beyond that degree of extension. Eagerness emphasizes an intense desire, generally for specific things, although it may stand also as a trait of character; it tends to produce corresponding keenness in the pursuit of its object. Earnestness denotes a more sober feeling, proceeding from reason, conviction of duty, or the less violent emotions, but likely to prove stronger and more permanent than any of the others. The word has at times a special reference to effort; it implies solidity, sincerity, energy, and conviction of the laudableness of the object sought; it is contrasted with eagerness in that it affects the whole character. Zeal is by derivation a bubbling up with heat; it is naturally, therefore, an active quality, passionate and yet generally sustained, an abiding ardor or fervent devotion in any unselfish cause. Enthusiasm is so far redeemed from its early suggestion of extravagance that it denotes presumably a trait of character more general than eagerness or zeal, more lively than earnestness, a lofty quickness of feeling and purpose in the pursuit of laudable things under the guidance of reason and conscience; thus it differs from zeal, which still generally implies a poorly balanced judgment.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The state or quality of being eager; ardent desire.
  • noun obsolete Tartness; sourness.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The state or quality of being eager; ardent desire.
  • noun obsolete Tartness; sourness

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun prompt willingness
  • noun a positive feeling of wanting to push ahead with something


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • Chook! she was crying, and the dogs whined and yelped in eagerness of desire and effort to overtake Big


  • I get the impression that Darcy Burner really believes that eagerness is a substitute for depth.

    Sound Politics: Darcy Burner, the publicity-shy candidate 2006

  • Chook! she was crying, and the dogs whined and yelped in eagerness of desire and effort to overtake Big


  • What we call eagerness, enthusiasm, passion, refers to the intensity of an instinct, wish, desire or purpose.

    The Foundations of Personality 1921

  • Miss Jean heard their voices, first low and awestricken, rising in eagerness and loudness as they got further from the house.

    Kirsteen: The Story of a Scotch Family Seventy Years Ago Margaret 1891

  • Between me and the light, the better to see us, a lad had climbed on to a high ledge, close against the luxurious overhanging foliage – all lit up from the dying glow – of the precipitous rock, and, wearing only a red loin-cloth on his shining dusky skin, stretched forward in eagerness, quite unconscious of his graceful poise.

    Insulinde: Experiences of a Naturalist's Wife in the Eastern Archipelago 1887

  • Their silent, concentrated eagerness is a piteous sight, as the cover is slowly lifted from the heavy brass box in which the dice are kept, on the cast of which many of them have staked all they possess.

    The Golden Chersonese and the Way Thither Isabella Lucy 1883

  • Mrs. Powle made them with ceremonious respect, not make believe, and with a certain eagerness which welcomed a diversion from Eleanor's somewhat troublesome agitation.

    The Old Helmet 1864

  • The child, as soon as he can use his limbs, pants for exercise: it is the instinct that seeks future welfare in present gratification; he flies with eagerness from the nursery to the garden; so Nature wisely stimulates to firm the limbs, and brace the whole system of the future man.

    Letter 177 1798

  • But it may perhaps have been a matter almost of indifference to him, till you undertook its defence; then make it of consequence by rising in eagerness, in proportion to the insignificance of your object; if he can draw consequences, this will be an excellent lesson: if you are so tender of blame in the veriest trifles, how impeachable must you be in matters of importance!

    Letters for Literary Ladies: To Which is Added, An Essay on the Noble Science of Self-Justification 1798


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