\ ˈnərv How to pronounce nerve (audio) \

Definition of nerve

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : sinew, tendon strain every nerve
2 : any of the filamentous bands of nervous tissue that connect parts of the nervous system with the other organs, conduct nerve impulses, and are made up of axons and dendrites together with protective and supportive structures
3a : power of endurance or control : fortitude, strength
b : assurance, boldness also : presumptuous audacity : gall
4a : a sore or sensitive point her remark touched a nerve
b nerves plural : nervous agitation or irritability : nervousness a case of nerves
6 : the sensitive pulp of a tooth


nerved; nerving

Definition of nerve (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to give strength or courage to : supply with physical or moral force

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Choose the Right Synonym for nerve


temerity, audacity, hardihood, effrontery, nerve, cheek, gall, chutzpah mean conspicuous or flagrant boldness. temerity suggests boldness arising from rashness and contempt of danger. had the temerity to refuse audacity implies a disregard of restraints commonly imposed by convention or prudence. an entrepreneur with audacity and vision hardihood suggests firmness in daring and defiance. admired for her hardihood effrontery implies shameless, insolent disregard of propriety or courtesy. outraged at his effrontery nerve, cheek, gall, and chutzpah are informal equivalents for effrontery. the nerve of that guy has the cheek to call herself a singer had the gall to demand proof the chutzpah needed for a career in show business

Examples of nerve in a Sentence

Noun The optic nerve in the eye allows you to see. a condition affecting the nerves in her arm It takes a lot of nerve to start a new career. He found the nerve to stand up to his boss. I was going to ask her to the dance, but I lost my nerve. You have a lot of nerve to talk to me that way. I can't believe she had the nerve to call me a liar. Verb needs to nerve himself for the big game tomorrow
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Last month, Hudson expressed her passion for the role while also sharing her nerves in taking on such an important figure. Helen Murphy,, "Aretha Franklin’s Youngest Son Criticizes Upcoming Biopic Respect Starring Jennifer Hudson," 9 Jan. 2020 Bailey got a chance to test his nerves midway through the first half when the Vikings offense stalled at the end of a 14-play drive. Dane Mizutani, Twin Cities, "Dan Bailey’s math: 4 for 4 on Vikings field goals add up to $1 million bonus," 29 Dec. 2019 The irreverent mirror that Dream Job turned to audiences—and the ski industry at large—clearly hit a nerve. Heather Hansman, Outside Online, "Katie Burrell's 'Dream Job’ Pokes Fun at Ski Tropes," 27 Dec. 2019 All this impeachment stuff is kind of getting on my nerves. Time, "What Are High Crimes and Misdemeanors? Here’s the History," 10 Dec. 2019 The device uses electrical currents to communicate with his nerves, according to BBC News. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "Hockey player paralyzed from the chest down takes first steps since deadly bus crash," 25 Nov. 2019 In a previous life, Billick would have spent this Monday afternoon operating on too few hours of sleep, his mind obsessed with next week’s opponent and his nerves jangling from the unending stress of supervising an NFL team. Childs Walker,, "As Brian Billick prepares to enter Ravens Ring of Honor, he reflects on regret-free 12 years away from coaching," 26 Sep. 2019 Ari Lennox is calling out trolls who have the nerve to tear down Black women. Sydney Scott, Essence, "Ari Lennox Calls Out Troll Who Compared Her To Rottweilers: ‘Why Are You So Comfortable Tearing Down Black Women?’," 2 Jan. 2020 Researchers hypothesize that the vagus is part of what’s known as the microbiota-gut-brain axis, and John Cryan, an Irish neuroscientist, has identified the nerve as one way that microbes in your gut send signals to your brain. The Editors, Outside Online, "How to Chill Out and Relax Already," 1 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb As Buckeye Nation nerved out, Ohio State avoided collapsing under pressure, recovering from mostly self-inflicted wounds to win 28-17. Rob Oller, Detroit Free Press, "How Ohio State took 'a punch to the face' to prepare for Michigan football," 24 Nov. 2019 How the body’s nerves become accomplices in the spread of cancer., "Those are among the questions that researchers at a new Cambridge biotech are exploring. The startup, Cygnal Therapeutics, is officially emerging from “stealth mode” on Tuesday, two years after it was founded by Flagship Pioneering, the venture capital firm in the same city.," 8 Oct. 2019 Calcium: High in calcium, açaí berries will help keep your bones, heart, muscles, and nerves strong and healthy. Tehrene Firman, Good Housekeeping, "10 Things You Should Know About Açaí Berries, Nature's "Purple Gold"," 23 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nerve.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of nerve


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1750, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for nerve


Latin nervus sinew, nerve; akin to Greek neuron sinew, nerve, nēn to spin — more at needle

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Time Traveler for nerve

Time Traveler

The first known use of nerve was in the 14th century

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Statistics for nerve

Last Updated

22 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Nerve.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for nerve


How to pronounce nerve (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of nerve

: one of the many thin parts that control movement and feeling by carrying messages between the brain and other parts of the body
: courage that allows you to do something that is dangerous, difficult, or frightening
: the rude attitude of someone who says or does things that make other people angry or upset


\ ˈnərv How to pronounce nerve (audio) \

Kids Definition of nerve

1 : a bundle of nerve fibers that carries messages in the form of nerve impulses to or away from the brain and spinal cord
2 : courage, boldness “I've always wanted to do something like that … I just didn't have the nerve.”— Jack Gantos, Joey Pigza Loses Control
3 : rude or disrespectful boldness You've got a lot of nerve to talk to me that way.
4 nerves plural : feelings of worry The groom suffered from nerves before the wedding.
5 : the sensitive soft inner part of a tooth

Other Words from nerve

nerveless \ -​ləs \ adjective


\ ˈnərv How to pronounce nerve (audio) \

Medical Definition of nerve

1 : any of the filamentous bands of nervous tissue that connect parts of the nervous system with the other organs, conduct nerve impulses, and are made up of axons and dendrites together with protective and supportive structures and that for the larger nerves have the fibers gathered into funiculi surrounded by a perineurium and the funiculi enclosed in a common epineurium
2 nerves plural : a state or condition of nervous agitation or irritability
3 : the sensitive pulp of a tooth

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More from Merriam-Webster on nerve

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nerve

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with nerve

Spanish Central: Translation of nerve

Nglish: Translation of nerve for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of nerve for Arabic Speakers

Comments on nerve

What made you want to look up nerve? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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