Is there a word to describe the emotional state of being simultaneously excited about the prospect of something and dreading the prospect of it not happening? The closest thing I can think of is "disappointment" but I don't think that covers a future tense hypothetical.

The use of the word would be something like:

"I am excited because I think they're going to offer me the job but I'm worried that they won't."

Would transform to:

I am (word or phrase) about the job offer.

  • Welcome to ELU! Can you provide an example sentence of how you may use the word? Also, what research have you done to find the word? Have any words come close? If so, why were they not a good fit? Please provide more information.
    – Hank
    Jul 5, 2017 at 15:08
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    The number of different words that can be used to describe the emotions involved makes it difficult to actually do any sort of keyword search. I actually don't have a lot of hope that there is a phrase, let alone a single-word, that covers this in English but I figured I'd ask. I've added some clarification, including an example, though. Jul 5, 2017 at 15:15
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    Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/283046/…
    – Hank
    Jul 5, 2017 at 15:16
  • @Hank Looking over that I would say I'm looking for a word or phrase that describes anticipating two things that are opposite. "Anxious anticipation" is pretty close, actually. Jul 5, 2017 at 15:21
  • The Butterflies answer seemed to cover both sensations.
    – Hank
    Jul 5, 2017 at 15:22

2 Answers 2


You are on tenterhooks about the job offer.


to be on (the) tenterhooks: i.e. in a state of painful suspense or impatience:

Worldwidewords.org explains further

It comes from one of the processes of making woollen cloth. After it had been woven, the cloth still contained oil from the fleece, mixed with dirt. It was cleaned in a fulling mill, but then it had to be dried carefully or it would shrink and crease. So the lengths of wet cloth were stretched on wooden frames, and left out in the open for some time. This allowed them to dry and straightened their weave. These frames were the tenters, and the tenter hooks were the metal hooks used to fix the cloth to the frame. At one time, it would have been common in manufacturing areas to see fields full of these frames (older English maps sometimes marked an area as a tenter-field). So it was not a huge leap of the imagination to think of somebody on tenterhooks as being in an state of anxious suspense, stretched like the cloth on the tenter.

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    Excellent word choice! Don Jul 5, 2017 at 15:53

You are anxious about the job offer.


wanting something very much, typically with a feeling of unease.

Explanation/definition for anxious

  • As demonstrated in the example, anxious denotes either anticipation or avoidance but does not adequately do so at the same time. Jul 5, 2017 at 21:53
  • How does wanting something very much, typically with a feeling of unease include anything like fearing something, much or slightly? Jul 12, 2017 at 21:50
  • @RobbieGoodwin Apparently from all the messages I'm getting from senior members we should not be answering questions like these anyway. I still fail to see how comments help clean up the site versus "answers". There is still no clear line on what we should answer. Sigh.
    – Kace36
    Jul 12, 2017 at 21:51
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    @ Kace36 No-one said fearing nor should they have needed to. Your search engine will tell you fearing and dreading are almost perfectly synonymous. Who, please, said it's not the kind of question they want answering? If you’re not sure about the difference between Answers and Comments, use Comments… when appropriate, people will suggest you make your Comment an Answer. Jul 12, 2017 at 22:06
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    @Kace36 Yes, I said fearing. I said that. I said it above. How is that confusing, please? I understand you've gotten messages about only answering certain types of questions and for at least the third time, what messages have you got and how do they relate to this question? Why is any of this difficult, please? Jul 12, 2017 at 22:26

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