I read about angst as anxiety and frustration that isn't specific and in another website, it was written that angst is a feeling of worry but with hope that everything will be sorted in the end and anxiety is worrying without any hope.

Help me to differ between them. examples would be helpful.

  • Use citations in your question, if you please. – lbf Mar 31 '18 at 14:23

Definitions from Oxford English Dictionary:

Anxiety - a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

Angst - a feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general.

  • If the source of your unease is something specific (such as financial worries or fear of death), you're experiencing anxiety.
  • If the source of your unease isn't focused on something specific (such as "everything sucks and we're all doomed"), you're experiencing angst.

Angst is derived from German. Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard coined the term in his book The Concept of Anxiety:

In Existentialist philosophy the term angst carries a specific conceptual meaning. The use of the term was first attributed to Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855). In The Concept of Anxiety (also known as The Concept of Dread, depending on the translation), Kierkegaard used the word Angest (in common Danish, angst, meaning "dread" or "anxiety") to describe a profound and deep-seated condition. Where animals are guided solely by instinct, said Kierkegaard, human beings enjoy a freedom of choice that we find both appealing and terrifying. It is the anxiety of understanding of being free when considering undefined possibilities of one's life and one's power of choice over them. Kierkegaard's concept of angst reappeared in the works of existentialist philosophers who followed, such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre and Martin Heidegger, each of whom developed the idea further in individual ways. While Kierkegaard's angst referred mainly to ambiguous feelings about moral freedom within a religious personal belief system, later existentialists discussed conflicts of personal principles, cultural norms, and existential despair.

|improve this answer|||||
  • Nope. A large percentage of usage for angst identifies a specific target of angst - "angst of", "angst about","angst over" and "angst to" are all in the top ten "angst *". And please provide cites and links to those quotations. – Phil Sweet Apr 1 '18 at 1:14
  • @PhilSweet My original post had links to definitions to both words (Google). I've updated the post to link to the Oxford English Dictionary instead. I've also added details about the origin of the word 'angst', which reinforces the definition from OED. – Shaun Apr 1 '18 at 1:54
  • The problem I have is that a target is worthless as a distinguishing characteristic. Both words are commonly used across the entire spectrum from utterly vague with respect to cause, right on through naming a specific person or thing as the precise cause. Angst might come up short at the extreme end of naming a person as the cause, but specific concepts are common enough. Ngrams shows the exact same four specifying collocations for both. You'd have to really dig to support an argument here. The same source you quoted says 'In common language, however, angst is the normal word for "fear"' – Phil Sweet Apr 1 '18 at 1:54
  • Okay, now the post got edited and that quote is gone. Wikipedia: Angst is the source for my last quote. – Phil Sweet Apr 1 '18 at 1:57
  • @PhilSweet Yes, in common German, angst and the word for "fear" are synonyms. My post links to the OED now and also cites the origin of the word. You have a valid point in saying that common use has blurred the lines between angst and anxiety, but a distinction does exist between the two. – Shaun Apr 1 '18 at 1:59

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