"Angst" is a German word for fear or anxiety. ("Anguish" is its almost entirely synonymous Latinate equivalent.) It is used in English to describe an intense feeling of strife. The term "Angst" distinguishes itself from the word "Furcht" (German for "fear") in that "Furcht" usually refers to a material threat (arranged fear), while "Angst" is usually a nondirectional emotion. However, today "Furcht" is rarely, if ever, usedFact|date=June 2008, and "fear of [...] " is expressed as "Angst vor [...] ".

In other languages having the meaning of the Latin word "anxietas" and "pavor", the derived words differ in meaning, e.g. as in the French "anxiété" and "peur".

The word "Angst" has existed since the 8th century, coming from the base-Indoeuropean "*anghu-", "restraint" from which Old High German "angust" develops. It is pre-cognate with the Latin "angustia", "tensity, tightness" and "angor", "choking, clogging"; compare to the Greek "άγχος" (ankhos): stress.


A different but related meaning is used by existentialists, first attributed to Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855). In "The Concept of Dread" (also known as "The Concept of Anxiety", depending on the translation), Kierkegaard used the word "Angest" (Danish, meaning "dread") to describe a profound and deep-seated spiritual condition of insecurity and in the free human being. Where the animal is a slave to its instincts but always confident in its own actions, Kierkegaard believed that the freedom given to people leaves the human in a constant fear of failing its responsibilities to God. Kierkegaard's concept of angst is considered to be an important stepping stone for 20th-century existentialism. While Kierkegaard's feeling of angst is fear of actual responsibility to God, in modern use, angst was broadened by the later existentialists to include general frustration associated with the conflict between actual responsibilities to self, one's principles, and others (possibly including God). Martin Heidegger used the term in a slightly different way.

"Teenage angst" and popular music

Angst, in contemporary connotative use, most often describes the intense frustration and other related emotions of teenagers and the mood of the music and art with which they identify. Heavy metal, punk rock, grunge, nu metal, emo, and virtually any alternative rock dramatically combining elements of discord, melancholy and excitement may be said to express angst.

Angst was probably first discussed in relation to contemporary music in the mid to late 1950s in relation to music favoured by people influenced by the campaign for nuclear disarmament, especially jazz and folk. Songs like Bob Dylan's 1963 "Masters of War" and "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" articulated the dread caused by the threat of nuclear extinction. A key text is Jeff Nuttall's book "Bomb Culture" (1968) which traced this pervasive theme in popular culture back to Hiroshima.

In the 1980s "teen angst" was expressed in music to a certain extent in the rise of punk, post punk, and alternative music with which it is currently more associated. It was probably first used in reference to the grunge movement and the band Nirvana. Nirvana themselves seem to have been aware of this, as evidenced by the first line of "Serve the Servants" in which Kurt Cobain describes the success of writing songs dealing with the subject ("Teenage angst has paid off well | Now I'm bored and old..."). In addition, rock band Placebo released a single from their first album entitled Teenage Angst. Also, From First To Last's first full-length album quotes a line of dialogue from black comedy film "Heathers", entitled Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has A Body Count, and the same line appears in their single "Ride The Wings Of Pestilence". Another band that has done this is The Wombats in which their line (In their hit single "Kill the Director") is "And with the ANGST of a teenage band, here's another song about a gender I'll never understand." Another notable song to mention the term is Silverchair's hit song "Miss You Love", which says: "I love the way you love/But I hate the way I'm supposed to love you back/It's just a fad/Part of the, teen, teenage angst brigade".

Literary Applications

The term "angst" is now widely used as a theme by many great modern writers. Often, the expression is used as a common adolescent experience of malaise, as in J.D. Salinger's novel "The Catcher in the Rye"; in this sense it has become one of the central themes in modern fiction.

ee also

*Byronic hero, an archetypal "rebel" in literature, described by Byron in 1812, with attitudes similar to those with angst in modernity.
*Fear of death
*Terror management theory

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  • Angst — Angst, ein Adverbium, mit Angst behaftet, Angst empfindend, welches aber nur mit den Zeitwörtern seyn, werden und machen, und der dritten Endung der Person gebraucht wird. Mir ist angst. Ist ihnen denn noch immer angst? Gell. Einem angst machen,… …   Grammatisch-kritisches Wörterbuch der Hochdeutschen Mundart

  • Angst — Angst …   Википедия

  • Angst — Sf std. (8. Jh.), mhd. angest, ahd. angust Stammwort. Aus wg. * angusti f. Angst , auch in afr. angst. Dieses ist eine (s)ti Bildung (oder ti Bildung zu einem s Stamm) zu ig. * anghu eng, bedrängend (eng). Der s Stamm liegt vor in ai. áṃhas… …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

  • Angst — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Angst es una palabra holandesa, alemana y escandinava que significa tanto miedo como ansiedad, y describe un intenso sentimiento de falta de armonía sentimental. Un significado diferente pero relacionado es atribuido …   Wikipedia Español

  • Angst — Angst: Die auf das dt. und niederl. Sprachgebiet beschränkte Substantivbildung (mhd. angest, ahd. angust, niederl. angst) gehört im Sinne von »Enge, Beklemmung« zu der idg. Wortgruppe von ↑ eng. Vgl. z. B. aus anderen idg. Sprachen lat. angustus… …   Das Herkunftswörterbuch

  • Angst — (aussi connu sous le nom de Fear, Schizophrenia, Schizophrenia, le tueur de l ombre) est un film germano autrichien de 1983 de Gerald Kargl, édité en France en vidéocassette par Carrere Video[1]. Il est inspiré de l histoire vraie de Werner… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • angst — [æŋst] n [U] [Date: 1900 2000; : Germa] strong feelings of anxiety and unhappiness because you are worried about your life, your future, or what you should do in a particular situation ▪ love letters full of angst …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • angst — (n.) 1944, from Ger. Angst neurotic fear, anxiety, guilt, remorse, from O.H.G. angust, from the root of ANGER (Cf. anger). George Eliot used it (in German) in 1849, and it was popularized in English by translation of Freud s work, but as a… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Angst — [Aufbauwortschatz (Rating 1500 3200)] Auch: • Furcht Bsp.: • Das Mädchen hatte große Angst vor Mäusen …   Deutsch Wörterbuch

  • Angst [1] — Angst, Ahnung eines drohenden Übels, begleitet von unangenehmem Bangigkeitsgefühle, Herzklopfen u. allgemeiner Unruhe, mit dem Bewußtsein der Unfähigkeit, das Übel abzuwenden. A. wirkt störend auf das Nervensystem u. auf den Kreislauf des Blutes …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

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