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Eager vs. Enthusiastic: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on November 12, 2023
Eager refers to keen or impatient desire to do something or for something to happen. Enthusiastic refers to having or showing intense and eager enjoyment, interest, or approval.

Key Differences

Eager often implies a strong desire or impatience to do something or for something to happen. Enthusiastic suggests a lively, intense enjoyment or approval, often more outwardly expressive.
Eager is used in contexts where there's an anticipation or a keen interest in something specific. Enthusiastic is used when someone is showing visible excitement or zeal about an activity, idea, or event.
Eagerness can be an internal feeling and might not always be overtly expressed, whereas enthusiasm is often visibly demonstrated through actions, words, or expressions.
Eagerness can denote a sense of urgency or immediacy, wanting something to happen soon. Enthusiasm is more about the intensity of the feeling, regardless of the timing.
Being eager might lead one to take proactive steps towards a goal. Being enthusiastic often involves active participation or vocal support for something.

Comparison Chart


Keen desire or impatience
Intense enjoyment or interest


Can be internal or subtle
Usually outwardly visible and expressive


Specific anticipation or interest
Broad and intense excitement or approval

Temporal Aspect

Often implies urgency or immediacy
Not necessarily tied to immediacy

Associated Behavior

Proactive steps towards a goal
Active participation or vocal support

Eager and Enthusiastic Definitions


Strong willingness or enthusiasm.
She was eager to start her new job.


Showing great excitement and interest.
He was enthusiastic about the upcoming trip.


Intense desire for something to happen.
He was eager for the weekend to arrive.


Deeply involved and excited.
They were enthusiastic participants in the workshop.


A state of excited expectation.
They were eager to hear the news.


Demonstrating lively enjoyment or approval.
The audience was enthusiastic during the performance.


A fervent interest in pursuing something.
She was eager to learn new skills.


Expressing excitement and positive feelings openly.
He was enthusiastic in cheering for his favorite team.


Willingness to engage in an activity.
The team was eager to get to work on the project.


Energetic and eager support or approval.
She was enthusiastic about the new initiative at work.


Having or showing keen interest, intense desire, or impatient expectancy. See Usage Note at anxious.


Having or demonstrating enthusiasm.


(Obsolete) Tart; sharp; cutting.


With zealous fervor; excited, motivated.
An enthusiastic lover of art


Variant of eagre.


Relating to enthusiasm, or divine possession.


Filled with enthusiasm; characterized by enthusiasm; zealous; as, an enthusiastic lover of art.
A young man . . . of a visionary and enthusiastic character.


An enthusiast; a zealot.


Having or showing great excitement and interest;
Enthusiastic crowds filled the streets
An enthusiastic response
Was enthusiastic about taking ballet lessons


Can someone be enthusiastic but not eager?

Yes, one can show enthusiasm without necessarily having a keen desire to participate immediately.

Does enthusiasm always involve physical energy?

While often associated with energy, enthusiasm can also be a quiet but intense interest.

Is eagerness a temporary feeling?

Eagerness can be both a short-lived, intense desire or a long-term anticipation.

Is being eager always positive?

Mostly, but eagerness can sometimes be tinged with anxiety or impatience.

Can eagerness lead to disappointment?

If expectations are not met, eagerness can lead to disappointment.

Can eagerness be mistaken for nervousness?

Sometimes, as both can involve a sense of anticipation and heightened emotion.

Is enthusiasm contagious?

Often, yes. Enthusiastic people can influence others’ moods and attitudes.

Is it possible to be too eager?

Yes, excessive eagerness can sometimes be perceived as overeagerness or impatience.

How do you show enthusiasm?

Enthusiasm can be shown through expressions, gestures, tone of voice, and active participation.

Can enthusiasm be learned?

While it's often a natural disposition, one can cultivate enthusiasm for certain activities or topics.

Is eagerness necessary for success?

Eagerness can be a driving force, but success also depends on other factors like skill and opportunity.

Are eager and enthusiastic interchangeable?

They have similar meanings but are not always interchangeable due to differences in intensity and expression.

Can eagerness fade over time?

Yes, eagerness for a particular thing or event can diminish once the anticipation is over or if interests change.

Is enthusiasm important in the workplace?

Enthusiasm can be important for motivation, morale, and productivity in the workplace.

Is eagerness a trait or a state?

Eagerness can be both a personality trait and a temporary state of mind.

How does culture affect the expression of enthusiasm?

Cultural norms can influence how openly and in what ways enthusiasm is expressed.

Can you be enthusiastic about something you're not knowledgeable about?

Yes, enthusiasm can be about the excitement of learning or exploring something new, not just about existing knowledge.

Does enthusiasm require a specific interest?

Enthusiasm usually centers around specific interests or activities but can be generally applied to an optimistic outlook.

Do children show eagerness differently from adults?

Children may show eagerness more openly and impulsively than adults.

Can someone be quietly enthusiastic?

Yes, enthusiasm does not always have to be loud or overt; it can be a quiet, intense interest.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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