English Idioms For Anxiety

Feeling anxious is like having butterflies in your stomach before a big race or feeling like you’re standing on a shaky bridge. It’s a nervous feeling that can make you worry about what might happen next. Sometimes, it’s hard to say exactly how you feel when you’re anxious, but there are special phrases, called idioms, that help us describe these feelings in a creative way.

Idioms are like little word puzzles that give us a picture of our emotions, making it easier to share and talk about them. Let’s explore some idioms that help us understand and express anxiety, turning those jumbled feelings into words that paint a clear picture.

What Does Anxiety Mean?

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. It’s like an internal alarm system that goes off inside your body, telling you something might be wrong or there’s a challenge ahead. This emotion can range from mild, fleeting concerns to intense, prolonged feelings of dread or fear, affecting both the mind and the body.

Idioms For Anxiety

1. On pins and needles

Meaning: Anxious

  • Sat on pins and needles waiting.
  • She’s on pins and needles now.
  • They felt on pins and needles.

2. Sweating bullets

Meaning: Nervous

  • He’s sweating bullets before speaking.
  • Sweating bullets during the final exam.
  • She was sweating bullets all day.

3. A bundle of nerves

Meaning: Nervous

  • He’s a bundle of nerves today.
  • Became a bundle of nerves suddenly.
  • She felt like a bundle of nerves.

4. Shake like a leaf

Meaning: Trembling

  • She shook like a leaf earlier.
  • He’s shaking like a leaf now.
  • They shake like a leaf often.

5. Bite one’s nails

Meaning: Nervous

  • Biting nails before the interview starts.
  • She bites her nails when anxious.
  • He bit his nails during discussions.

6. Tied up in knots

Meaning: Stressed

  • Felt tied up in knots inside.
  • She’s tied up in knots today.
  • They get tied up in knots.

7. With bated breath

Meaning: Anticipation

  • Waited with bated breath for news.
  • Listening with bated breath, she trembled.
  • They watched with bated breath.

8. Heart in one’s mouth

Meaning: Fearful

  • Heart in mouth during the climb.
  • She spoke with her heart in mouth.
  • His heart was in his mouth.

9. Worry one’s head off

Meaning: Overly worried

  • She worried her head off yesterday.
  • He’s worrying his head off again.
  • They worry their heads off unnecessarily.

10. Have butterflies in one’s stomach

Meaning: Nervous

  • Had butterflies in stomach before speech.
  • She always has butterflies in stomach.
  • They felt butterflies in their stomachs.

11. On edge

Meaning: Tense

  • She’s been on edge all day.
  • He’s on edge about the meeting.
  • They seem a bit on edge.

12. Jumpy as a cat

Meaning: Skittish

  • He’s jumpy as a cat tonight.
  • She felt jumpy as a cat.
  • They were jumpy as cats during.

13. Like a cat on hot bricks

Meaning: Anxious

  • Paced like a cat on bricks.
  • He looked like a cat on bricks.
  • She acted like a cat on bricks.

14. Walking on eggshells

Meaning: Cautious

  • Walking on eggshells around her now.
  • He walks on eggshells at home.
  • They’re walking on eggshells this week.

15. Twisting one’s hands

Meaning: Nervous

  • She was twisting her hands nervously.
  • Twisting hands while waiting anxiously.
  • He twists his hands when stressed.

16. All in a dither

Meaning: Flustered

  • She’s all in a dither today.
  • He got all in a dither.
  • They were all in a dither.

17. Fretting over nothing

Meaning: Overworrying

  • He’s fretting over nothing, as usual.
  • She frets over nothing all day.
  • They’re always fretting over nothing.

18. To be in a tizzy

Meaning: Upset

  • She’s in a tizzy about the move.
  • He got himself in a tizzy.
  • They’re all in a tizzy again.

19. Climbing the walls

Meaning: Agitated

  • He’s climbing the walls waiting.
  • She was climbing the walls yesterday.
  • They’re climbing the walls in anticipation.

20. At wit’s end

Meaning: Frustrated

  • He’s at wit’s end with delays.
  • She’s at her wit’s end now.
  • They were at wit’s end yesterday.

21. Pulling one’s hair out

Meaning: Frustrated

  • Pulling her hair out over homework.
  • He’s pulling his hair out today.
  • They’re pulling their hair out now.

22. Up in the air

Meaning: Uncertain

  • Everything’s up in the air still.
  • She felt up in the air.
  • Plans were all up in the air.

23. Chew one’s fingernails

Meaning: Nervous

  • Chewing fingernails during the scary movie.
  • She chewed her fingernails anxiously.
  • He chews his fingernails when nervous.

24. In a stew

Meaning: Worried

  • She’s in a stew about exams.
  • He was in a stew yesterday.
  • They’re in a stew over finances.

25. Pacing the floor

Meaning: Anxious

  • He’s been pacing the floor all night.
  • Pacing the floor, she worried.
  • They paced the floor, anxious.

26. Scared stiff

Meaning: Terrified

  • She was scared stiff by the noise.
  • He’s scared stiff of heights.
  • They were scared stiff last night.

27. To have a lump in one’s throat

Meaning: Nervous

  • Had a lump in throat speaking.
  • She felt a lump in her throat.
  • They had lumps in their throats.

28. To be on tenterhooks

Meaning: Anxious

  • On tenterhooks about the job offer.
  • She was on tenterhooks all day.
  • They sat on tenterhooks during the announcement.

29. To be rattled

Meaning: Shaken

  • He was rattled by the news.
  • She’s easily rattled by changes.
  • They were rattled after the incident.

30. Break out in a cold sweat

Meaning: Fearful

  • Broke out in a cold sweat.
  • She broke out in a cold sweat.
  • They break out in cold sweats often.

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