Here are feelings which to some degree are related:

  1. The feeling of waking up in a new city for the first time or starting work on a new job.
  2. The feeling of new love, meeting someone for a date, getting married or having a baby.
  3. The feeling of imagining what will it be like being in some place or time you have only read or heard about.

I have always felt myself at a loss of words, trying to convey that sort of a feeling precisely. I have to throw in several words to convey the effect: anxious, dreamy, excited, nervous, fresh, overwhelmed and so forth.

In contrast, if I have to describe the sad longing associated with old things, I have a precise term, namely, 'Nostalgia'.

The closest one word I could think of was 'Forward-looking'. But I feel, it is a bit too positive. Another word that I would consider is 'Ambivalent', but it needn't necessarily convey the feelings of new beginning. There must be a better word, isn't it?

p.s.: There are other similar questions like: this or this. So I have tried asking the question in manner, that highlights the different expectations from the answer.

  • 2
    I'd think ambivalence is the opposite of how'd you feel in your examples. Oct 27, 2015 at 21:54
  • 2
    – Drew
    Oct 27, 2015 at 21:57
  • There is a phrase on the verge.
    – bib
    Oct 27, 2015 at 23:45
  • 2
    For #1 and the final two (or perhaps, three) items on #2 I'd suggest trepidation.
    – aroth
    Oct 28, 2015 at 5:47
  • I'm feelin' that right now! Oct 28, 2015 at 21:26

14 Answers 14


Anticipation (or expectation) may suggest the feeling excitement you are referring to:

  • a ​feeling of ​excitement about something that is going to ​happen in the near ​future:
    • As with most ​pleasures, it's not so much the ​experience itself as the anticipation that is ​enjoyable. The postponement of the film's ​sequel has ​held ​cinemagoers in ​eager anticipation for several ​months.

(Cambridge Dictionary)

  • 2
    I've never used, or heard of "anricipation" involving excitement. From my vocabulary, to anticipate something is to foresee it happening, but doesn't say anything about your feelings towards it. Oct 28, 2015 at 23:36
  • 4
    @Carcigenicate, that understanding of 'anticipation' isn't wrong, it's just not exhaustive. For example, you might see someone visibly experiencing anticipation.
    – pilcrow
    Oct 29, 2015 at 17:35
  • "Waiting for an event with great anticipation" is a dated way to suggest you're excited for the event to occur, or more specifically to see its results.
    – talrnu
    Oct 30, 2015 at 14:06
  • @talrnu - with anticipation : books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – user66974
    Oct 30, 2015 at 14:08
  • I see you shiver, with antici...pation!
    – kirk
    Nov 4, 2015 at 6:09


a feeling of hollowness or queasiness caused especially by emotional or nervous tension or anxious anticipation (MW)

As the definition suggests, this works for both positive and negative anxiety. Plus, it communicates the idea of nervousness effectively.

  • 4
    +1 I prefer this over the "anticipation" suggestion, because it includes "anxiety" as well. "Anticipation" seems to me to be only positive, whereas "butterflies [in the stomach]" has that element of nervousness that OP is looking for.
    – Wolfie Inu
    Oct 28, 2015 at 12:35

"anxiety" is a general term and describes what we feel when we are facing something new. Not all types of anxiety are pathological, though. Some degree of anxiety is part of the human condition and an optimal level of arousal is necessary to best complete a task such as an exam, performance, or competitive event. Without it, we are likely to achieve much less than we would otherwise. But when anxiety exceeds that optimum, the result is a decline in performance and in this case it is certainly pathological.

Some common situations where anxiety may be exacerbated are:

  • When you have to give a lecture or make a speech for the first time.
  • When you go out with a sweetheart for the first time.
  • When you have intercourse for the first time.
  • When your wife is in labor.
  • When you wake up for the first time in a place you always dreamed visiting.

All the conditions mentioned by the OP can result in anxiety. Either "first-time anxiety" or "performance anxiety" depending on the situation.

Read more about anxiety here

  • 2
    I had an argument with the author of Common Errors in English Usage, who claims that anxiety means worry. I agree with you that anxiety is simply a feeling of uneasy excitement, and can be good. Oct 28, 2015 at 10:51

Next to "anticipation", which I think is an excellent word, I'd add "exhilaration" because new experiences and the anticipation of those experiences in addition to making us happy, can also excite us and pump us up with adrenaline.

  • It certainly conveys cheerfulness and glad spirits (from hilarity).
    – WS2
    Oct 27, 2015 at 23:14

I agree with the others answers provided, but giddiness can also work in many contexts and certainly works in the three sentences you provided

Not the most authoritative source, but the example will do

A wave of giddiness swept over her.  
adj  If you feel giddywith delight or excitement, you feel so happy or excited that you find it hard
  • this is the best one, imo Oct 30, 2015 at 2:18

One word that I think nicely captures the combination of fear and excitement that often seems to accompany taking new steps into the unknown is frisson. As per the Oxford Dictionaries:

Line breaks: fris|son
Pronunciation: /ˈfriːsɔ̃/ /ˈfrɪsɒn/ Definition of frisson in English:
A sudden strong feeling of excitement or fear; a thrill: 'a frisson of excitement'
[Another example]
'As I put my hand on the sunroom door I felt a sudden frisson of fear.'

  • This is a very good answer, as it's the rare word that combines unfamiliarity and excitement. The only caveat I'd have is that frisson usually refers to only the very first encounter with a presence or situation. So it fits very well the asker's example of first meeting a person, or first entering a new place - but not so much the more general, prolonged sense of eager anticipation.
    – recognizer
    Oct 28, 2015 at 19:54

A word which figured prominently in a catsup commercial years ago is ANTICIPATION. Whatever brand it was, the person in the commercial would hold the catsup bottle upside down and simply wait, and wait, and wait, until the red condiment emerged slowly from the bottle. ("Anticipation," I believe was made into a big pop-hit decades ago by Carly Simon, James Taylor's ex, and the song was featured in the catsup commercial.)

What may make my answer a little different from others' answers is a quotation from A. A. Milne's book, Winnie-the-Pooh:

“Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.”

Well, it's called anticipation, which is quite apt if applied to your three different scenarios of a new job in a new city, a new love, and a new-to-you destination.


To convey the negative aspects, try trepidation.

trep·i·da·tion (noun): a nervous or fearful feeling of uncertain agitation; a feeling of fear that causes you to hesitate because you think something bad or unpleasant is going to happen. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/trepidation

For the positive, I think maybe you're looking for anticipation and/or excitement.


Next to "exhilaration" suggested by @Kristina Lopez, consider elation.

: a feeling of great happiness and excitement : she felt a great sense of elation as she started on the journey Oxford Learner's Dictionaries


For the anxiety connotation, perhaps: discovery or pre-discovery jitters.

"jitters" definition: nervousness; a feeling of fright or uncomfort that you ​experience before something ​important ​happens.

If too negative, it's simply "discovery excitement".



1.the quality or state of expecting; expectation; anticipatory belief or desire.



Neo (new) + phobia (fear)

'Pretty self explanatory!


The phrase "butterflies in the stomach" comes to mind.

  • 1
    This is a good suggestion, but Nathaniel already suggested "butterflies" back on October 27. If you can think of an explanation that distinguishes your answer from his, please add it to your very brief original answer. Otherwise, I suspect that this answer may be deleted as a repeat response.
    – Sven Yargs
    Nov 4, 2015 at 7:43

I would possibly describe this feeling as novelty.

(Defined at http://www.oxforddictionaries.com among other definitions as "The quality of being new, original, or unusual")

It indicates something new and different without being overly positive. It can also provide implications of temporary interest, not necessarily something fulfilling in the long term.

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