26 Idioms for Anxiety: Expressions of Nervousness and Stress


Anxiety is something most of us feel at some point in our lives. It’s that jittery, nervous feeling that can make you uncomfortable. Sometimes, we use interesting phrases to describe it, like “butterflies in your stomach” or “shaking like a leaf.” In this article, we’ll explore idioms for anxiety.

These expressions might sound funny, but they capture that uneasy feeling perfectly. Let’s dive in and understand what these idioms really mean.

idioms for anxiety

What is an idiom for anxiety?

Idioms are phrases that don’t mean exactly what the words say. When it comes to anxiety, we use idioms to describe how it feels.

Let’s break down some common idioms for anxiety and see how they express that uneasy sensation.


0%
0 votes, 0 avg
9
Created by Dr. Julia Rossi

English Language Level Placement Test – (TEFL)

Take this quiz and find out how good your English is. Pass and receive an “English Language Level Placement” certificate.

1 / 20

What is a simile?

2 / 20

Identify the simile in the following sentence: “She swims like a fish.”

3 / 20

What is a metaphor?

4 / 20

Which of the following is a metaphor?

5 / 20

What is an idiom?

6 / 20

What does the idiom “break the ice” mean?

7 / 20

What is an adjective?

8 / 20

Choose the adjective in the following sentence: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

9 / 20

What is an abbreviation?

10 / 20

What does the abbreviation “e.g.” stand for?

11 / 20

What is a verb?

12 / 20

Identify the verb in the following sentence: “The cat sleeps on the sofa.”

13 / 20

“Out of the frying pan into the fire” is an example of:

14 / 20

Which of the following is an adjective?

15 / 20

The abbreviation “NASA” stands for:

16 / 20

Choose the metaphor in the following sentence: “Time is a thief.”

17 / 20

What does the idiom “hit the books” mean?

18 / 20

Which of the following sentences contains a simile?

19 / 20

“LOL” is an abbreviation for:

20 / 20

Identify the verb in this sentence: “They whispered secrets into the night.”

Enter your name and email to receive your certificate.

Your score is

The average score is 14%

0%


IdiomMeaningIn a Sentence
Butterflies in your stomachFeeling nervous or anxious before an event.Before her speech, Sarah had butterflies in her stomach, making her a bit shaky.
On edgeBeing tense or nervous, waiting for something bad to happen.After the accident, John was constantly on edge, afraid of another mishap.
Jumping out of your skinFeeling extremely startled or frightened.When the loud thunderclap echoed, Lisa felt like she was jumping out of her skin.
Nail-bitingBeing very worried or anxious about something.Waiting for the test results was nail-biting for Tim; he couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Sweating bulletsSweating excessively due to nervousness or anxiety.While waiting for the interview, Jane was sweating bullets, worrying if she would do well.
Heart in your throatFeeling scared or anxious due to a sudden shock or fear.When the car nearly crashed into hers, Emily felt her heart in her throat.
Nervous wreckSomeone who is extremely anxious and unable to calm down.After losing her wallet, Sarah became a nervous wreck, searching everywhere for it.
Shaky as a leafTrembling or shivering due to nervousness or fear.Mark was shaky as a leaf during the scary movie, unable to control his fear.
Walking on eggshellsBeing very cautious and careful in a situation to avoid conflict.In a room full of angry people, Joe felt like he was walking on eggshells, trying not to make anyone angrier.
Tied up in knotsFeeling very anxious and tense, as if your stomach is tied in knots.The thought of the upcoming exam had Maria tied up in knots for weeks.
TwitchyNervous or jittery, often with sudden, small movements.The caffeine made Mike feel twitchy, and he couldn’t sit still for long.
High strungEasily agitated or anxious, having a tendency to get nervous quickly.Emily is high strung and tends to worry about the smallest things.
Hair-raisingExtremely frightening or causing intense fear.The haunted house was so scary that it was a hair-raising experience for everyone.
Panic attackA sudden and intense episode of extreme anxiety or fear.Mary had a panic attack before her first public speaking event, making it difficult for her to go on stage.
Biting your nailsA habit of chewing on your nails when anxious or nervous.Watching a horror movie always made Susan start biting her nails without even realizing it.
Heart poundingWhen your heart beats loudly and rapidly due to anxiety or fear.The roller coaster ride had my heart pounding with excitement and fear.
Feeling the jittersFeeling anxious or nervous, often before an important event.On the morning of his wedding day, Jack was feeling the jitters, but he couldn’t wait to marry his partner.
Up in armsBeing very angry or upset about something.The decision to cancel the school picnic had parents up in arms, demanding it be rescheduled.
Cold feetFeeling nervous or unsure about something you were previously excited about.On the day of the big game, Tom got cold feet and considered not playing.
Mind racingWhen your thoughts are racing, often due to anxiety or stress.With the deadline approaching, Sarah’s mind was racing as she tried to finish her project.
Having a meltdownExperiencing a complete breakdown or loss of control due to extreme stress or anxiety.After a long day of work and unexpected problems, Jane had a meltdown and couldn’t hold back her tears.
Feeling on edgeBeing in a state of nervousness or unease.Waiting for the medical test results, Bill was feeling on edge, worried about his health.
Shaking like a leafTrembling uncontrollably due to fear or anxiety.During the thunderstorm, the young child was shaking like a leaf, scared of the loud thunder.
Sweating bucketsSweating profusely due to nervousness or intense anxiety.Before the job interview, Mike was sweating buckets, feeling the pressure to perform well.
Twitching like a rabbitMaking sudden and involuntary movements due to anxiety or nervousness.The thought of public speaking had Mark twitching like a rabbit, unable to stand still.
Being in a cold sweatBreaking out in a sweat due to fear, nervousness, or anxiety.Hearing a strange noise in the dark made Lisa break out in a cold sweat, fearing the worst.

Metaphors can help convey the feeling, like comparing it to a relentless storm that rages within. To explore more metaphors for anxiety, you can visit this link: Metaphors for Anxiety. Similarly, similes offer comparisons that make anxiety more relatable, such as saying it’s as suffocating as being trapped in a small, dark room. Discover additional similes for anxiety here: Similes for Anxiety.

Idioms for Anxiety

1. Butterflies in your stomach

Meaning: Feeling nervous or anxious, often before a big event or when anticipating something.

In a Sentence: Before her speech, Sarah had butterflies in her stomach, making her a bit shaky.

2. On edge

Meaning: Being tense or nervous, as if waiting for something bad to happen.

In a Sentence: After the accident, John was constantly on edge, afraid of another mishap.

3. Jumping out of your skin

Meaning: Feeling extremely startled or frightened.

In a Sentence: When the loud thunderclap echoed, Lisa felt like she was jumping out of her skin.

4. Nail-biting

Meaning: Being very worried or anxious about something.

In a Sentence: Waiting for the test results was nail-biting for Tim; he couldn’t stop thinking about it.

5. Sweating bullets

Meaning: Sweating excessively due to nervousness or anxiety.

In a Sentence: While waiting for the interview, Jane was sweating bullets, worrying if she would do well.

6. Heart in your throat

Meaning: Feeling scared or anxious, often due to a sudden shock or fear.

In a Sentence: When the car nearly crashed into hers, Emily felt her heart in her throat.

7. Nervous wreck

Meaning: Someone who is extremely anxious and unable to calm down.

In a Sentence: After losing her wallet, Sarah became a nervous wreck, searching everywhere for it.

8. Shaky as a leaf

Meaning: Trembling or shivering due to nervousness or fear.

In a Sentence: Mark was shaky as a leaf during the scary movie, unable to control his fear.

9. Walking on eggshells

Meaning: Being very cautious and careful in a situation, often to avoid conflict or upsetting someone.

In a Sentence: In a room full of angry people, Joe felt like he was walking on eggshells, trying not to make anyone angrier.

10. Tied up in knots

Meaning: Feeling very anxious and tense, as if your stomach is tied in knots.

In a Sentence: The thought of the upcoming exam had Maria tied up in knots for weeks.

11. Twitchy

Meaning: Nervous or jittery, often with sudden, small movements.

In a Sentence: The caffeine made Mike feel twitchy, and he couldn’t sit still for long.

12. High strung

Meaning: Easily agitated or anxious, having a tendency to get nervous quickly.

In a Sentence: Emily is high strung and tends to worry about the smallest things.

13. Hair-raising

Meaning: Extremely frightening or causing intense fear.

In a Sentence: The haunted house was so scary that it was a hair-raising experience for everyone.

14. Panic attack

Meaning: A sudden and intense episode of extreme anxiety or fear.

In a Sentence: Mary had a panic attack before her first public speaking event, making it difficult for her to go on stage.

15. Biting your nails

Meaning: A habit of chewing on your nails when anxious or nervous.

In a Sentence: Watching a horror movie always made Susan start biting her nails without even realizing it.

16. Heart pounding

Meaning: When your heart beats loudly and rapidly due to anxiety or fear.

In a Sentence: The roller coaster ride had my heart pounding with excitement and fear.

17. Feeling the jitters

Meaning: Feeling anxious or nervous, often before an important event.

In a Sentence: On the morning of his wedding day, Jack was feeling the jitters, but he couldn’t wait to marry his partner.

18. Up in arms

Meaning: Being very angry or upset about something.

In a Sentence: The decision to cancel the school picnic had parents up in arms, demanding it be rescheduled.

19. Cold feet

Meaning: Feeling nervous or unsure about something you were previously excited about.

In a Sentence: On the day of the big game, Tom got cold feet and considered not playing.

20. Mind racing

Meaning: When your thoughts are racing, often due to anxiety or stress.

In a Sentence: With the deadline approaching, Sarah’s mind was racing as she tried to finish her project.

21. Having a meltdown

Meaning: Experiencing a complete breakdown or loss of control due to extreme stress or anxiety.

In a Sentence: After a long day of work and unexpected problems, Jane had a meltdown and couldn’t hold back her tears.

22. Feeling on edge

Meaning: Being in a state of nervousness or unease.

In a Sentence: Waiting for the medical test results, Bill was feeling on edge, worried about his health.

23. Shaking like a leaf

Meaning: Trembling uncontrollably due to fear or anxiety.

In a Sentence: During the thunderstorm, the young child was shaking like a leaf, scared of the loud thunder.

24. Sweating buckets

Meaning: Sweating profusely due to nervousness or intense anxiety.

In a Sentence: Before the job interview, Mike was sweating buckets, feeling the pressure to perform well.

25. Twitching like a rabbit

Meaning: Making sudden and involuntary movements due to anxiety or nervousness.

In a Sentence: The thought of public speaking had Mark twitching like a rabbit, unable to stand still.

26. Being in a cold sweat

Meaning: Breaking out in a sweat due to fear, nervousness, or anxiety.

In a Sentence: Hearing a strange noise in the dark made Lisa break out in a cold sweat, fearing the worst.

10 Quizzes About The Idiom in The Article

Quiz 1: Butterflies in Your Stomach

  1. What does the idiom “butterflies in your stomach” mean?
    • A. Feeling hungry
    • B. Feeling nervous or anxious
    • C. Feeling excited
  2. In which situation might someone have “butterflies in their stomach”?
    • A. After a satisfying meal
    • B. Before giving a speech
    • C. While watching a comedy show

Quiz 2: On Edge

  1. What does the expression “on edge” signify?
    • A. Feeling relaxed and calm
    • B. Feeling tense or nervous
    • C. Feeling energetic and happy
  2. When might you be “on edge”?
    • A. After a good night’s sleep
    • B. While waiting for important news
    • C. During a relaxing vacation

Quiz 3: Jumping Out of Your Skin

  1. What does the idiom “jumping out of your skin” mean?
    • A. Feeling physically energetic
    • B. Feeling extremely startled or frightened
    • C. Feeling excited about something
  2. In which situation might someone be “jumping out of their skin”?
    • A. Watching a peaceful sunset
    • B. Hearing a sudden loud noise
    • C. Eating their favorite dessert

Quiz 4: Nail-Biting

  1. What does the expression “nail-biting” indicate?
    • A. A habit of grooming one’s nails
    • B. Being very worried or anxious
    • C. Enjoying a delicious meal
  2. When might someone engage in “nail-biting”?
    • A. While taking a leisurely walk
    • B. When waiting for important test results
    • C. After completing a challenging task

Quiz 5: Sweating Bullets

  1. What does the idiom “sweating bullets” mean?
    • A. Exercising vigorously
    • B. Sweating excessively due to nervousness or anxiety
    • C. Staying cool in hot weather
  2. In which scenario might you find yourself “sweating bullets”?
    • A. While sitting in an air-conditioned room
    • B. Before a job interview
    • C. While relaxing at the beach

Feel free to use these quizzes to test your knowledge of idioms related to anxiety!

Conclusion

Anxiety is a common feeling, and we often use colorful idioms to describe it. These expressions, like “butterflies in your stomach” or “shaking like a leaf,” help us convey those uneasy emotions.

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest posts

  • 25 Metaphors For Love

    25 Metaphors For Love

    Love, a complex and multifaceted emotion, has been a timeless subject of exploration and expression. One way humans have sought to understand and convey the nuances of love is through…

    Read more

  • 17 Metaphors For Life + Quiz

    17 Metaphors For Life + Quiz

    Navigating the complexities of life often requires a metaphorical lens through which we can view our experiences. Metaphors for life provide a rich tapestry of imagery that encapsulates the essence…

    Read more