Origin: 1760–70; Related forms
< French avide
< Latin avidus,
equivalent to av(ēre)
‘to crave’ + -idus -id4
Avid, eager, keen all share the sense of strongly desirous. Avid suggests a desire akin to greed, so strong as to be insatiable: driven by an avid need for fame and recognition. Eager implies a desire that is strong and impatient but less than overpowering: eager to try his hand at new tasks. Keen carries a sense of zest and active, alert desire: an amateur painter, ever keen to try new techniques.
The word avid is relatively new, coming into the language in the 18th century from the French word avide, which comes from the Latin word avidus. That word, in turn, comes from the Latin verb avēre, a multifaceted word that is translated as “to crave, long for,” but incorporates many levels of desire, from eagerness to hunger to outright lust.
As used in English, the sense of physical craving or hunger is very rare, as in this 1866 translation of a line from Ovid's Metamorphoses: “Or dragon avid for his prey.” Instead, we tend to use avid synonymously with “intensely eager.” What avid lends to “eager” is the added dimension of intensification by either enthusiasm (an avid fan of indie films) or desire, which can sometimes morph into greed (avid for company; avid for gold). An excess of any of these qualities may lead to darker territories, as shown by this 1953 quote from The New Yorker: “He was writing for a public avid for gruesome details.”
—Avid: A non-linear video editing system developed by Avid Technology, Inc. Best known in the film and video production industry are the Media Composer and Pro Tools video and sound editing software. The Avid editing system was used to edit films such as Iron Man 2, 2012, and Hurt Locker, among many others. Pro Tools was used for the sound edit and mix of Avatar.
—AVID: acronym for Advancement Via Individual Determination. A teaching system designed to help underachieving students with high academic potential prepare for entrance to colleges and universities. The system was developed in 1980 by Mary Catherine Swanson, an English teacher from San Diego.
—AVID: acronym for American Veterinary Identification Devices. These are microchips that are permanently implanted in a pet to be used for the animal's identification.
“Avid readers are enchanted by meaning, which is available chiefly in books.“
—Mason Cooley, City Aphorisms, Fourth Selection (1987)
“Augustine's…avid fondness for theatrical ‘spectacles.’“
—Robert J. O'Connell, Images of Conversion in St. Augustine's Confessions (1996)
“Avid of gold, yet greedier of renown“
—Robert Southey, “Covadonga“ The Poetical Works of Robert Southey: Volume 9 (1838)
“He was convivial, bawdy, robustly avid for pleasure.“
—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Rich Boy (1926)