Is there a noun that refers to "the amount of stress that a given thing causes" (i.e. "how stressful is this thing"), or, as a less ideal alternative, "the intensity of the emotional response that a given thing induces"?

The context is, I have a column in an organizational spreadsheet that is basically "how much is this bothering me?", in a very vague sense. I'm using this as the main criteria for prioritizing tasks. I need a good single-word heading for the column.

"Stressiness" is my current made-up word of choice, but I'd prefer a real word, or at least something with a more professional tone. AmE preferred but BrE / AuE also work.

To be clear, afaik I'm not looking for a synonym for "stress". I'm looking for a word that means "the amount of stress caused / induced by something". I think there's a difference between the two, but maybe I'm just splitting hairs? Or perhaps there is a difference but English does not have the words to represent it.

  • 1
    I did indeed consult a list for 'stress' and thought that 'worry' might be a nice short heading that could carry a score or rating, because "How much of a worry is it?" aligns with "How much is this bothering me?" Oct 7, 2021 at 17:31
  • 1
    A worry can be the thing itself, or what it causes. Oct 7, 2021 at 17:35
  • 1
    OK then, looking up 'worry' I find vexation. Oct 7, 2021 at 17:45
  • 1
    Thanks for your help; really do appreciate it. I'm going to throw myself down a dictionary rabbit hole with "worry" and "vexation" and see if something appropriate pops out. I completely support closing this question if it is indeed merely a synonym request.
    – Jason C
    Oct 7, 2021 at 17:48
  • 1
    The Yiddish word tsuris has this meaning. Oct 7, 2021 at 18:12

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure there is such a word. Seems to me that any level of stress, low or high or in between, needs an apposite adjective.

Nevertheless, here are a few suggestions:

  • cognitive dissonance, or just dissonance

  • angst

  • agitation

  • disquietude

In the last one, disquietude, quietude turns into its opposite with the dis- prefix. That means quietude turns into something it is not. One goes from quietude to something that is not quietude. The 180-degree change from one to the other is, by implication, an amount or level of change.

Every apposite noun I can think of carries with it an implied opposite. Only by modifying the noun or its negative with an adjective can you indicate the level or degree of the mental state (e.g., anxiety, worry, anxiousness, trepidation, boldness, compassion, hatred, and so on).

Another two-word solution might use the word factor, as in "the anxiety factor." Even then, however, you'd likely need more information to meet your criterion of level or degree, as in "level of anxiety factor."

Difficult question to answer.

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.