We were setting up a long-awaited, much anticipated new stereo the other day. When we initially turned it on, the sound was terrible. I immediately got that sinking feeling and started to think that the stereo might turn out to be a lemon (it wasn't).

Afterwards, I was looking for a word to describe that creeping feeling of dread that a much desired thing or event might turn out to be less wonderful than anticipated. The best I could come up with was "anticipatory disappointment" and that's not even a single word. The word I'm looking for describes that combination of fear and hope that might have one both praying and swearing at the time. Any thoughts?

  • I think what you said in your question describes it in a nice, uh, flowery way. "Creeping feeling of dread" is a wonderful way to describe what you felt.
    – Dispenser
    May 30, 2014 at 15:28
  • Nervous=creeping feeling of dread May 30, 2014 at 15:39
  • Nervousness would also be "anticipatory disappointment". You're ready to be disappointed by something, you're nervous it might turn out to be shit. There's a sinking feeling in your gut that you bought a shitty stereo, etc.
    – Dispenser
    May 30, 2014 at 16:02

6 Answers 6


letdown 2. A disappointment
The cancellation of the game was a real letdown.

If you don't yet know you're going to suffer a letdown, but you're increasingly fearing you might, you could say you're having qualms/misgivings, or you're apprehensive.

  • apprehensive! I knew there was a word for it.
    – dnagirl
    May 30, 2014 at 16:04


A feeling that something bad will happen; fearful apprehension


This is from Urban Dictionary so you can't use it in formal communication but it seems to capture what you were getting at.

a gut wrenching emotion felt deep in the belly of a person unrealistically looking forward to an upcoming event immediately after the reality of extreme disapointment has replaced the anticipated happiness

There is also:


but I personally prefer anticipointment.

  • +1. Exactly the word that popped into my head when I read the title of the question. May 30, 2014 at 21:57

You got an ominous feeling in your stomach.

giving the impression that something bad or unpleasant is going to happen; threatening; inauspicious.

You could also go with dark, unpromising, or unfavorable. But I think ominous works best here.


I'd simply say:

I've got a bad feeling about all this.


I was credited with inventing this word for a holiday card I designed at my ad agency in the 70's. The card read, "There's only one word that truly describes the war, spirit and love of the holiday season". Open to, "ANTICIPOINTMENT". This was memorialized and published in the Atlantic Magazine in Word Trak. Ray Jacobs

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.